Illinois State freshman Jalen Love learned early on the value of going to college and pursuing a degree. His parents, Larry and Betty Love, were both first-generation college students who found a home at the University.

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They graduated in 1994, with Larry earning a degree in athletic training and Betty studying medical laboratory science. The western Chicago suburbs became their home. He is the owner and sports medicine specialist of Total Body Wellness and Performance in Westmont, while she is a registered nurse at Hines VA Hospital.

While both gained the academic knowledge needed to push them forward in their careers, they also learned the value of interacting with people from different backgrounds. They wanted their children to have that same experience. Jalen, a kinesiology and recreation major, certainly has during his first year on campus.   

“My son can live that legacy,” Larry said. “That legacy is now meeting good people and putting that benchmark and blueprint on Illinois State’s campus.” He enjoys participating in events with Jalen, including a legacy family brunch sponsored by the Office of Alumni Engagement last fall. 

When Larry was applying for schools, Illinois State was the first one to respond to his application and show a genuine interest in having him on campus. He took great pride in being a student of color in the sports medicine program.

While Jalen was introduced to Illinois State at a young age with his parents’ campus connection, Larry and Betty let him make his own college decision. Just as his father had experienced, Illinois State was one of the first schools to respond to Jalen’s application. That was a strong sign to Larry that Jalen could have a similar experience both in and out of the classroom.

“That let me see Illinois State was about getting students instead of getting the right kind of student,” Larry said. “To me, the more students you have the more diversity you have on campus.”

Jalen is the third of Larry and Betty’s children to attend college. They are both excited that he has extended the family’s Redbird legacy.