With spring commencement ceremonies less than a month away, students at Southeast Missouri State University have been fine-tuning their resumes and honing their interview skills as they prepare for life beyond Southeast. They can take inspiration from Southeast graduate Emily Wilson Reeves, who, for more than a decade, has enjoyed regular employment in the field she loves.
Reeves, a native of Carlyle, Illinois, graduated from Southeast in 2005 with dual degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in theater and a Bachelor of Science in mass communication. After interning at Walt Disney World and managing a summer theater in Illinois, she moved to New York City, where, for three years, she studied and worked for the Julliard School’s professional stage management program, first as an intern, and then as a member of Julliard’s staff. She then spent a year in Orlando working for Walt Disney World, Sea World and the Orlando Repertory Theater before Reeves was approached by Cirque du Soleil and asked to work as the child artistic coordinator for their production, “The Beatles LOVE.” She has been with Cirque du Soleil ever since.
“Two years after moving to Las Vegas, I transferred to stage management at Cirque du Soleil’s production ‘O,’” she said. “After three and a half incredible years at that beautiful show, I transitioned this past August to our Resident Show Division Headquarters to event produce for Cirque du Soleil’s new corporate training, team building and VIP experience program called SPARK.”
Cirque du Soleil SPARK sessions are designed to develop inspiration, collaboration and adventure in corporate groups seeking to promote team-building and creativity within their employee networks. SPARK groups have the opportunity to be coached and trained by Cirque du Soleil artists, receiving an “inside” view of the teamwork necessary to create the intricate Cirque du Soleil shows, and explore principles of operational excellence, customer experience, and employee engagement.
“It’s a really unique experience,” said Reeves. “I’m so proud of what we accomplish here.”
Reeves believes choosing to attend Southeast was a key life decision that enabled her to be successful in her field.
“I am very fortunate that I have been continuously able to work in the entertainment industry. I truly feel like I owe that to my education at Southeast,” she said. “I graduated before the stunning River Campus existed, but the foundation of that amazing program was already in place with our incredible professors. The theater and dance department went out of its way to make sure we were ready to succeed in the ‘real world.’”
According to Reeves, the Southeast faculty was “of the highest caliber. From resume guidance, to auditions, to getting key internships, they pushed us outside our comfort zones and that solidified my drive to continue my career in entertainment,” she said.
Reeves had set a goal of working for Cirque du Soleil, but needed to lay the groundwork first.
“Dr. (Kenn) Stilson was the one that really pushed and helped me get the Juilliard internship. Without that internship, I know I would not have ended up at Cirque du Soleil,” she said.
According to Reeves, students preparing to graduate and move into the “real world” beyond Southeast should feel confident.
“I really truly feel like my career would not be where it is without Southeast!” she said. “I mean, I work in the circus— can it get more ‘real world’ than that?”