A cold rain falls, casting a dreary shadow across the Wilson College campus. Sitting across from John Elia, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, is a feeling of warmth that contrasts the chilly conditions just outside the window. A flicker of rejuvenation shown in his brown eyes in thanks to the recent fall break, "I was really excited for break." He tugs eagerly at his grey sweater, "This year my family and I went to a pumpkin patch and did fall-type activities." Despite growing up in Tennessee and living in the South for years, Elia states "I love the fall, Pennsylvania seasons are quite nice."
The Road Not Taken
Like so many students on campus, Elia's early college years started with a different career path in mind. Reclining in his chair, Elia's head tilts in thought - the classic pondering pose of many famous philosophers. "Anthropology was my intended major," Elia admits with a crooked smile, "My college didn't offer an anthropology department, so my advisor suggested taking a philosophy class instead." His grin widens and fills with enthusiasm, "I just got hooked!"
Do Philosophers Fence?
After receiving his Doctorate in Philosophy and completing years of research, Elia took a part-time job involving teaching. "I knew all along that I wanted to be a teacher. I didn't like the competition of research," he says confidently. In 2006, Elia relocated to become a professor at Wilson College. "It is and isn't what I expected it to be," Elia reflects on his impressions of the school. "I've developed great relationships with students and faculty." Lately, Doug Crawford, Assistant Professor of Business, has attempted to get Elia into fencing. "I'm not sure of his intentions. He walks in here with a big sword, swinging it around and I just think he wants to beat me up." Elia's eyebrows lift in playful skepticism, " I'd love to try it at some point though."
Being Honored for What He Loves
Elia was honored with the Donald F. Bletz Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2008. The modest professor took it all in stride, "It meant my work wasn't in vain." Raquel Feliciano, a two-time student of Dr. Elia, is thankful to have Elia as a professor; "He pushed me to think in a manner I wasn't used to. It's been beneficial not only in my academics but in finding myself and beliefs."
What Does the Future Hold for Prof. Elia?
The dedicated professor is also a doting father, taking time out of work to focus on his family. "I coach my son's soccer team, I've loved soccer since I was a kid," he grows a bit hesitant before letting out a sheepish chuckle, "My wife tells me I need a craft or real hobby. I guess I'm still working on that."
As for the future, Elia is no different than any of his students - he has goals, but is enjoying life as it comes. With a sigh, he strokes his bearded chin, "I hope that I'm modeling good teaching and encouraging critical thinking," he pauses, staring expectantly out from behind thinned framed glasses, "It's a hope."