I remember walking into Professor Aveni's Archaeoastronomy class completely prepared to discuss an article that he had assigned. I assumed I knew why we had read it. I was wrong. In class that day, Professor Aveni took us on different educational journey with a counter-argument to the article that was wholly unexpected and quite off-the-wall. While I don't remember the article or the counter-argument, I remember what I was thinking... I realized in that moment that Professor Aveni wasn't teaching about something, he was teaching his students how to think. The whole purpose of the exercise was to broaden our minds, our ability to understand and defend all sides of an issue. In a single afternoon, he brought home to me the importance of a liberal arts education.
Although I have a million wonderful memories of class at Colgate and the 1993 January trip to Yucatan (21 sites in 20 days!), my new favorite memory is walking through the Maya exhibit at the Minnesota Science Museum last year... From another room, I heard a very familiar voice coming from a film associated with the exhibit. I was able to "introduce" my two sons to my very favorite professor as he explained the importance of the stars to ancient civilizations. Needless to say, my boys were impressed!
Professor Aveni helped define my Colgate education, as well as what came afterward. I have many wonderful memories from class at Colgate and the 1993 January trip to Yucatan with "Don Antonio" and "Dona Elena." Even after Colgate, they both remained very supportive. I had a Watson Fellowship to Mexico and Central America the year after graduation. Don Antonio helped me connect with his network of amazing scholars throughout Mesoamerica. It is a testament to his reputation that they all took time to meet with me and share some of their wisdom based on his recommendation. He steered me toward graduate school with the Brickers at Tulane University in New Orleans. Not only did I get a great graduate education there, but I also met my husband. A decade after that, he and Dona Elena made time to stop in northern Louisiana to visit the two of us as they were passing through. Their continued interest in our lives meant a lot...
Congratulations, Don Antonio! Here's hoping you enjoy whatever travels, relaxation, and unending research this next phase of life entails! If you find yourself in Tallahassee, FL, please stop by!!