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Redbird legacy: The Cortilet sisters

Staying in the collegiate environment may seem like a dream come true for some upcoming graduates. For Carol Cortilet-Albrecht, ’91, M.S. ’93, it is reality.

Three sisters have a bond made stronger through their ISU memories. The Cortilet sisters are, from left, Judy Wierman, Karen Harjung, and Carol Cortilet-Albrecht.

Cortilet-Albrecht, Ed.D., completed her doctorate in educational psychology from National-Louis University. As the associate vice chancellor for enrollment management at Purdue University-Calumet in Hammond, Indiana, she spends every work day at a university. And where did her passion for higher education start? At Illinois State University.

The decision to enroll as a freshman was never a hard choice for Carol because her two older sisters had showed her the ropes. Her oldest sister, Karen (Cortilet) Harjung ’80, graduated with a degree in psychology. Her second oldest sister, Judy (Cortilet) Wierman ’87, was a senior during Carol’s freshman year.

“Judy helped me learn how to get things done on campus, and now that’s what I do for students,” Carol said.

As a freshman she was “an average student,” mostly spending time getting to know people and not involved in university activities until she was older. Her first ISU job was in the Psychology Department as an aide. She also worked in Student Health Services as a file clerk. She was a graduate assistant for the Office of the University Registrar, and taught freshmen composition for the English Department.

The combination of knowing ISU’s faculty and staff and learning how higher education operates helped steer Carol’s career interest toward higher education. “When you are a student, you don’t really understand how complicated higher education can be,” she said. “I was lucky to have had those experiences at Illinois State.”

Each of the sisters enjoy rewarding careers. Karen works at Elisabeth Ludeman Developmental Center in Park Forest, and resides in Frankfort. Judy is the director of HR for the Global Energy Services Division at Nalco Company in Naperville. She has two children and lives in Plainfield.

Even though the three Cortilet sisters have moved on from Illinois State, their legacy has continued with Kelly Harjung, Karen’s oldest daughter of four children. Kelly is a junior social work major expected to graduate in 2012.

The University’s influence remains strong within the family, as the sisters continue to appreciate their collegiate experience. “ISU inspired me to choose a career in higher education,” Carol said, “and to contribute in a positive way to the success of students through that.”

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