Academic paths bring professors together

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Christie Stockstill | Daily Texan Staff

As a young graduate student, history assistant professor Lina del Castillo had spent many hours reading, researching and admiring the work of history professor Jorge Canizares. She had no idea she would one day marry him.

Throughout her graduate research, Del Castillo relied heavily on the writings of Canizares . By the time she graduated to become a junior faculty member at Iowa State, Del Castillo finally had the opportunity to express her admiration to Canizares during a Big 12 schools fellowship program that brought her to the University of Texas, where Canizares worked.

“In my graduate classes at Iowa State I had assigned his books and articles,” Del Castillo said. “Since I was a grad student I was familiar with his work and wanted to come to UT not only because of the Benson, but because Jorge was here and his research and writing was very inspiring for my own work.”

In the weeks following her initial meeting with Canizares, Del Castillo said a professional friendship began to grow as they pursued research together in their common fields. She said it was not until the day before she was due to move to Florida and then Colombia following her fellowship that she realized she might have a reason to stay.

“Every time my mom would call to say how is this plan gonna go, to go to Miami, I would say I can’t talk right now mom, I’m meeting with this professor,” Del Castillo said. “It was only until the last week that I was here that I started to sense that things could possibly go beyond professional and I was interested, but I wasn’t sure.”

Coincidentally, Canizares had an apartment he had recently moved out of, which Del Castillo said he kindly offered to her when her impromptu decision to remain in Austin left her without a permanent residence, paving the way for their friendship evolve.

“I went to dinner with a friend,” Del Castillo said. “She was like ‘Lina, why do you have to go to Miami? You are here, it is a new space, you still have work you said you have to do at the Benson and there might be this possibility that you are interested in exploring emotionally. It could be fun for you to stay here.’”  

Over the next few months, Canizares and Del Castillo took many an adventure as they pursued their academic careers which fate united into a shared path as their fellowships happened to coincide perfectly every time.

“Serendipitously I also had a fellowship to go to Colombia at the end of the semester,” Canizares said. “Also serendipitously she had a fellowship in the fall in Providence and I also got the same fellowship.”  

She realized she loved him from the first kiss, and soon Del Castillo began to realize he was willing to go to great lengths to connect with her and her passions.

“That spring semester I was in Colombia and we were commuting, one of the things that we did when he came to visit [was] we did a day of going rock climbing,” Del Castillo said. “I was so impressed with how Jorge was willing to try something that was very much a part of my world.”

Finally, after a spending multiple semesters chasing their dreams together they decided to settle at UT, where both would come to teach while raising their family. Now, though their offices are near one another, Canizares’ favorite moment of the day is catching up with his wife before and after work.

“We are in the same department, in the same building every day,” Canizares said. “But, I really look forward at the end of the day to walk back to the parking lot with her and have a conversation with her before we pick up our son and same when we drop him off at daycare. Those are two of my favorite parts of the day.”