Marita Romine, administrative aide in the Business Office of the Foreign Languages Building, says one of her favorite things about her job has been that it provides her with the opportunity to speak Spanish, which feels “like home.” A native of Peru, Romine came to Illinois as a teenager for a three-month visit with relatives and to learn English. She wound up attending Eastern Illinois University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in administrative office management and met her husband, Mike, with whom she just celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary. Romine has worked in the department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese for 16 of her 25 years at the university.
Tell me about your work.
I moved around campus the first nine years and the last 16 years I have been in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, where I have been the assistant to the department head. We reorganized as of July 1, and now I work for Foreign Languages and have buildingwide responsibilities. I am one of three floor supervisors in the building. A lot of my time the past few months has been spent in meetings trying to figure out who’s going to do what and how we’re going to do it. We’re still in transition. Before, I had almost all the answers; now all I have is questions.
One of my main duties is going to be courses and curricula since we’re going through the course renumbering. I’m doing some course scheduling too.
I see that you won an outstanding staff award. Tell me about that.
Faculty (members) nominated me for my overall performance and I won an LAS (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) award in 1994. It was really nice because my mom was visiting me from Peru at the time, and she got to see it, so it was pretty special.
Aside from being able to speak Spanish at work, what do you like about your job?
I like helping people with their problems. I like the fact that they can come to me and if I don’t have an answer, I know where to get it. The people here are great, and my supervisors have always been very supportive, which has really helped me grow in my job. Also, I like my office window: On Quad Day I love watching the marching band perform on the steps of Foellinger Auditorium. I have one of the best seats in the house.
What do you do in your spare time?
My sons have always kept me pretty busy. I have a 24-year-old who graduated from here last year in psychology, a 21-year-old who’s a senior in cell biology and an 11-year-old at home. We’re involved in the Boy Scouts. This fall I helped my husband coach our son’s soccer team, and I’m teaching Spanish to my son and four of his friends.
A few years ago, I got into scrapbooking. I’ve always liked to take pictures, and now I have something to do with them. I’ve done a few scrapbooks, and I have plans to do a lot more of them. I started when my oldest son was graduating from high school. A friend showed me how to take small copies of his certificates and put them together with pictures and stickers to make a nice display of his accomplishments.
I’m trying to learn golf; my husband and kids like to play. They say it’s the only sport you can improve in as you get older, and I can honestly say I have gotten better. The best advice I ever received is to keep my eye on the ball; it sounds logical, but it’s hard to do all the time.
Golfing makes for a nice walk – so far, I don’t need a cart and I just use one club. It’s also an excuse to travel because I’m not ready to golf in Central Illinois: I might run into somebody who knows me. We went to Myrtle Beach during spring break and will be going back over Christmas break.
One of our favorite things to do is to get together with friends once a month and share gourmet cooking. We’ve been doing that for several years and have some people in the group who are very creative. Usually we have ethnic-themed menus. Other times we’ve had themes like ‘Titanic’ and murder-mysteries where everybody dressed up. This summer we had a drive-in movie night and sat out under the stars watching movies from the 1950s on a screen in someone’s back yard. I like to try different foods, so the group is a good way to do that, and it’s a lot of fun too.