It’s not every day that FIU graduates’ jobs bring them from Washington, D.C., back to their alma mater. But for English alumna Cari Romeu ’07, bringing William Shakespeare’s First Folio to FIU during its national tour is just another day at the office.
Romeu raises money for the Folger Shakespeare Library, an institution in D.C. that’s home to the largest collection of Shakespeare in the world. The Folger houses 82 copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio, a posthumous collection of his works printed in 1623.
A copy of the nearly 400-year-old book is currently on display at the Frost Art Museum as part of the Folger’s First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, a national tour marking the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. FIU is the only location in the state of Florida to host the exhibit, a point of pride for Romeu.
“I think it’s amazing that FIU is hosting the Folio,” she said. “When I found out, it was when I first started [at the Folger], and I was incredibly proud. I think South Florida is a great place to have the Folio because so many people from all over Florida will be able to see it.”
Romeu found her love for Shakespeare at FIU, where she took a number of classes on the Bard’s works with Shakespeare and Renaissance expert James Sutton, who played an integral role in bringing the exhibit to FIU.
“They were very rewarding, and really informed my career path and what I wanted to do,” Romeu said. “He was my advisor when I was here, and I don’t even remember how many classes I took with him—at least one every semester, sometimes two. He was wonderful about helping me decide what classes would be best for me moving forward.”
“We’ve stayed in touch a little bit throughout the years, and it was really rewarding for me to be in touch with him when I got this job and to tell him that I was working at the Folger.”
Romeu’s work has her maintaining relationships with those who have made financial donations in support of the library and encouraging others to contribute. The job requires her to have good communication, critical thinking and writing skills, which she attributes to her English literature degree from FIU.
“I think so much of what happens at FIU is going to inform the rest of your life. I think getting the most out of your classes is so important,” she said. “Coming from English lit, being able to think and write about books, and really analyze what’s happening in the words, was super beneficial to me. I think that’s why I ended up in a job where I do a lot of talking and a lot of writing.”
Romeu said the writing and analytical skills she developed made her a versatile candidate for a number of jobs in marketing, sales and development.
“It’s a point of pride for me that I have a degree in English literature. Having graduated in 2007, and leading up to a time where there were a lot of grads who did not get jobs, I think my English degree actually made me very marketable,” she said. “Unless you’re going to do something very technical, I think it’s the best degree you could possibly have, because you have so much freedom to think for yourself and think critically, and make your own decisions about what you’re ingesting.”
Though Romeu found her passion for Shakespeare at FIU, she’s been immersed in the arts since she was a girl. Her mom often took her and her sister to see ballets, operas and theater, so a job advocating for the arts was a natural decision after graduation.
“To [fundraise], you have to be really passionate. And I’m not a very good singer. I can’t dance. I can’t be creative,” she said. “But I think it’s so important that we have arts and culture in the world, so I help in the way that I can.”