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Redbird legacy: Daughter follows in mom’s footsteps

Katharine ’17, left, and Susan Woollen, M.S. ’06, Ph.D. ’15, are one of many Redbird legacy families that share a connection to Illinois State.

Katharine ’17, left, and Susan Woollen, M.S. ’06, Ph.D. ’15, are one of many Redbird legacy families that share a connection to Illinois State.

With her mother a dual graduate of Illinois State and employed at the University, Katharine Woollen ’17 knew what to expect when she decided to attend ISU. She was so certain of her decision to be a Redbird that Katharine did not apply to any other university.

“Since my mother attended Illinois State, I knew that the University offered quality programs and had excellent faculty,” Katharine said. “I took those into consideration. My decision to attend ISU was based on the quality of the anthropology program and the attention that faculty give to students.”

Susan Woollen, M.S. ’06, Ph.D. ’15, was excited and relieved to learn her daughter was accepted to Illinois State. “I was very proud of Katharine because I knew that ISU would be a good fit for her,” Susan said. She works in the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences as the director of undergraduate studies and enrollment management.

An educational administration and foundations graduate, Susan credits her professors for teaching her to become a more thoughtful and critical citizen by engaging with the world. She was confident her daughter’s educational experience would be as profound.

Katharine’s decision was made in her junior year of high school after visiting with Fred Smith, who was then chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. She completed her undergraduate in anthropology as an Honors Program student who studied in England and conducted research on remains from Schroeder Mounds. She graduated with honors in May and remains at ISU to pursue a master’s in anthropology.

“Katharine shares what she learns in the classroom with me, and I’ve learned so much from her,” Susan said. “She is a more concerned and informed citizen and a promising young scholar as a result of her ISU education.”

The two also share in their Redbird pride. Katharine remembers attending with her mother ISU Homecoming events when still a child. Now the two partner to decorate floats for the parade. It is just one more way they appreciate and celebrate their Illinois State legacy.

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