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Redbird legacy: ISU family affair for Bloomington sisters

Redbird family members include, front row from left, Antonia Durnil ’20; Debbie ’87, M.S. ’88; Jackie Durnil ’17; Tina ’90 and Tony Durnil ’89. Back row, from left, are Kevin Convey ’87; Micaela Convey ’16; and Kelly Sullivan ’87, a cousin to sisters Debbie and Tina.

Redbird family members include, front row from left, Antonia Durnil ’20; Debbie ’87, M.S. ’88; Jackie Durnil ’17; Tina ’90 and Tony Durnil ’89. Back row, from left, are Kevin Convey ’87; Micaela Convey ’16; and Kelly Sullivan ’87, a cousin to sisters Debbie and Tina.

For sisters Tina Durnil ’90 and Debbie Convey ’87, M.S. ’88, Illinois State University has become a family affair. These Bloomington natives, known by their maiden name of Nierhoff in their campus days, are both married to Redbirds.

Tina, a pre-school teacher, met her husband, Tony Durnil ’89, in a chemistry class during her freshman year. He was a sophomore at the time, studying industrial technology. She was an elementary education major.

“There was a little bit of chemistry going on,” Tina jokes about the memory. They became friends and didn’t date until after college. Married since 1992, they have lived for years in Grayslake. Tony has worked for the same employer, W.W. Grainger, since graduation.

Debbie lives in Sugar Grove with her husband Kevin Convey ’87. They met in 1985 at a gathering at her sorority house. The two married in 1988. She works as a speech pathologist for the Oswego School District. Kevin, a criminal justice sciences major, recently retired from the Aurora Police Department.

Both families can boast of having children who are carrying on the Illinois State tradition. The Conveys’ daughter, Micaela ’16, studied nursing at Illinois State. She works as an oncology nurse at Elmhurst Hospital.

The Durnils’ have two Redbird daughters. Jackie ’17, was named a Bone Scholar. She completed her degree in communication sciences and disorders, and remains at ISU to earn a master’s in speech language pathology. Her sister, Antonia, is entering her sophomore year in Mennonite College of Nursing.

The family’s Illinois State connection extends to include Tony’s sister, Michele (Durnil) Andrews ’86, who studied English. Her daughter, Bailey ’17, majored in psychology and graduated on the same day this year as her cousin Jackie.

They are not the only family cousins who are Redbirds. First cousins of Tina and Debbie are also alums. Ed Sullivan ’91, graduated from the College of Business. His sister, accounting graduate Kelly Sullivan ’87, works in financial consulting in Chicago.

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