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.