Chilean poet and educator Gabriela Mistral (Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga) was visiting lecturer in the department of Spanish for the second semester. Largely self-educated, Mistral rose in the complex Chilean education system to become the director of the country's most prestigious girls' school before moving to Mexico, at the invitation of the Mexican Minister of Education, to aid in the inaguration of that country's first national education system.

A group of love poems in memory of the dead, Sonetos de la Muerte (1914), established her name among Latin American readers, and her collection, Desolación, published in New York in 1922, brought her international notice.  In 1925 she became even more widely known as the representative of Latin America at the Institute of Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations in Paris.  A visiting professor at Barnard College in 1930, Mistral taught at Middlebury before coming to Vassar.  In 1932, she began a long career as diplomatic consul in several posts, and in 1945, Mistral was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Latin-American and the fifth woman to receive a Nobel Prize.