Simón E. Weffer-Elizondo
You could say Simón E. Weffer-Elizondo, an associate professor in NIU’s Department of Sociology, is full of energy.
He can get worked up about his classroom topics — which often include race relations, social movements and inequality.
“Usually it happens when something in the real world ties in with what we are covering in class,” he says.
His classes have endless real-word examples, from immigration and racial profiling to media portrayals. But when Weffer-Elizondo’s students relate what he is teaching to what is happening in the real word, that’s when his passion flares.
“There were many times in my race class where I would hardly say anything and the students controlled the discussion, with me just directing traffic,” he says. “I’d get in my car to drive home with the academic equivalent of a runner’s high.”
Also the director of Undergraduate Studies, Weffer-Elizondo serves as the vice-chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Minorities, and helps lead the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies.
"One of my favorites was about three years ago when a student who was reading Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ tied the material to some of the issues we were discussing in my urban communities class,” he says. “It was so amazing to listen to her make connections between sociology and literature and something I had never thought of.
In his years at NIU, he’s also encountered many students who don’t know anything about Latin American Studies, and he’s happy to help them broaden their horizons.
“So few students are taught about Latinos or Latin America in high school that it’s incredibly eye-opening for them when they’re in class.”