FIU Alumni Association Board of Directors President Gina C. Duarte-Romero ’91, M.Ed. ’08 taught briefly in Miami-Dade County Public Schools before purchasing a preschool and later The Biltmore School. She now runs The Biltmore School and is an adjunct professor in FIU’s School of Education and Human Development, teaching early childhood education courses. Gina also chairs the FIU Parent & Family Council, which connects students’ parents to FIU and raises funds for student scholarships and other initiatives. Gina and her husband, Erlan have been married for 23 years and have two children, Sofia and Diego, who are both proud Panthers!
How did your passion for education develop?
I wanted to be a teacher my entire life, but my passion definitely comes from the inspiration I get from my students, fellow faculty and family. I love to make a positive difference in the lives of children and, as an adjunct professor at our FIU, I can share my experiences with future educators. I love to teach!
When you were considering universities, what drew you to FIU?
When I was studying for my undergraduate degree, FIU just made sense. The program for education was great, and I wanted to stay local. Later, when it came time to get serious about a master’s degree, I connected with Dr. Angela Salmon, and when I saw her passion, I knew this was the place for me! It took me a while, but I got it done!
Why do you choose to be so involved with FIU and the FIU Alumni Association?
FIU has been a part of me for my entire adult life. I feel as if it is a family member. FIU is an incredible organization because of the people that put it together – I love to feed off their passion! It is contagious!
What was your most memorable experience from your time as a student, and what is your favorite memory as an FIU alumna?
I had many memorable experiences, but if I had to pick one as a student, it would be the great friends that I made throughout the journey.
As an FIU alumna, there have been so many experiences, I don’t even know where to begin! One organization very near and dear to my heart is the FIU Parent & Family Council. This organization is spearheaded by Betty Newborn and is instrumental in supporting parents and connecting them to our FIU! I also love the football games, tailgate parties and just being part of our transformational FIU!
Why do you think alumni should give back to their alma mater, no matter how they choose to do so?
FIU is truly transformational, but this would not be possible without the support of our alumni. As alumni, we have a lot to be proud of. FIU is no longer the little commuter school down S.W. 8th Street. Today, we have multiple campuses, we’re leaders in research, our medical program and law program are outstanding… there are so many things to be proud of!
And our FIU Alumni Center will be a truly state-of-the-art addition to our already amazing campus. So, I would definitely encourage alumni to give back and continue making our FIU the very best university on the planet!
What do you enjoy doing most outside of work?
What I enjoy the most is spending time with my family. I also love to travel and organize trips – I even organize field trips outside of Miami for my students at The Biltmore School. We have gone to Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City, to name just a few places. I love sharing my passion for travel, history and culture with my students.