The Duncan family includes, from left, Austin, Allyson, Juliana, Adrienne and Audriana.

Juliana Duncan is a senior with three semesters left to complete her undergraduate degree. She has been moving toward commencement for 15 years, raising four children along the way and working multiple jobs as a single mom.

Austin wasn’t yet in kindergarten when she started attending. Now 19, he is an ISU student as well. In fact, all of Juliana’s children are enrolled this fall.

“We are all very determined to finish school no matter how long it takes,” said Juliana, who works in Alumni Relations. “We’re all so passionate about ISU.”

Austin is a sophomore studying mass media. Adrienne, 21, is a junior studying apparel merchandising. Audriana, 24, is a human development major set to graduate in December. Her twin, Allyson, is a junior in the parks and recreation program.

Juliana raised them all with Redbird pride, bringing them to campus with her when they were young and cheering at basketball games with them on her lap. She enjoyed similar moments growing up, attending men’s basketball games with her brother in Horton Field House. Her passion for the University spread from sports to the classroom to her own children.

All four siblings attended a community college before transferring to Illinois State. And like their mom, all four are working full-time to pay for their education. They each started jobs at 16 and rely on student loans. Allyson has the additional responsibilities of wife and mom, which means she is a part-time student, as is Juliana. The other three are taking a full load of classes.

“I am so proud of them all,” said Juliana, who ranks being a mom as her biggest accomplishment. She knows her own journey as a nontraditional student has inspired her children, who now share a special bond with their mom as Redbirds in the classroom at the same time.

“On Sundays you can hear a pin drop as we’re all studying,” Juliana said. “There’s nothing on but lights and laptops.”


One thought on “Redbird legacy: Mom joins children back in school at ISU

  1. Laury Patwardhan says:

    Wonderful story and very inspirational!