“I always liked historical fiction when I was a kid,” recounted Prof. Sara Pritchard, science and technology studies. “I liked reading stories set in the past. I will confess, I was a big fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House on the Prairie series.”
Despite her early interest in history, Pritchard said her ambitions were not particularly lofty growing up as a child — and most certainly not academic. “I never wanted to be an astronaut as a child,” Pritchard said. “I’ll admit that I had very gendered ideas about my future.
Though Prof. Maria Antonia Garcés, Hispanic studies, was born 400 years after the death of Miguel de Cervantes — the renowned 16th century Spanish novelist — she says that when she met him in a Spanish literature class, it changed the course of her life. “Meeting Cervantes changed my life because then I went for a Ph.D. to work on Cervantes, and since then I have dedicated my life to working on Cervantes,” Garcés said. Garcés has since spent her life, including her 21 years working at Cornell, studying Cervantes. Since encountering him while studying for her Master’s degree at Georgetown University, she has been rewarded for her dedication and recognized for her work, receiving the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association for her book Cervantes in Algiers: A Captive’s Tale — the highest award conferred by the MLA — in 2003. Years prior, while she was living in Colombia, Garcés worked as a journalist and as a director of a fine arts school.
“As scientists, we need to think about how our work impacts society. We need to be able to engage with society more,” said Prof. Avery August, immunology, chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the College of Veterinary Sciences. A Belizean-born scientist, August immigrated to the United States and obtained a B.S. in medical technology from the California State University at Los Angeles. He then acquired his Ph.D. in immunology from Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. Outside of Cornell, August has also been a department director at Pennsylvania State University and a postdoctoral research fellow at Rockefeller University.
“I did not ever plan to be an LGBT director or to be doing gender and sexuality work,” said Brian Patchcoski, associate dean and director of Cornell’s LGBT Resource Center. As an undergraduate at the University of Scranton, Patchcoski trained to become a Catholic priest. Born into a Roman Catholic family, Patchcoski said he was determined to be a priest. When the seminary he entered after high school closed, he was faced with transferring to a more conservative seminary or leaving the seminary system completely. When he visited the new seminary with his mother, she was not allowed past the front door because “she was a woman,” Patchcoski recounted.