Some of my fondest memories from my time as an undergraduate at U.Va. involve conversations about big ideas, either in class or outside it, that forced me to really think about who I was, what I believed, and how I should live my life. When I decided to become a college professor, I knew I wanted to help students have similar experiences. For me, it was never about preparing students for post-graduate careers, but about helping them prepare for life as reflective and ethical human beings. This is why so much of my research has involved the Spanish encounter with the New World and Asia in during the century after Columbus’s voyages, when Spain was first building its empire. The topic inevitably brings up questions about the nature of historical truth and of cross-cultural encounter, not to mention the ethics and politics of colonialism. I became interested in how these issues played out in what might seem like an esoteric context, the drawing of maps and the description of spaces in literature. This has introduced me to broader questions about how we build the spaces (domestic, civic, national, global) we inhabit, and how those spaces in turn shape who we are and how we interact. I am looking forward to sharing these interests with first-year students in my Engagements course, and hopefully guiding them toward the sort of college experience that I am so grateful to have had.