Illinois State University has about 222,000 living alumni and 2,000 recorded legacies. You are part of a Redbird Legacy if you and your parent, child, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild have attended Illinois State University.
I visited legacy families around Central Illinois and from their front porches, listened to them reminisce about their Redbird experiences. If you are a legacy, please visit our Redbird Legacies page to share your story and get registered for upcoming alumni events.
Baker family, Downs
Born and raised in Bloomington-Normal, Cindy Baker ’79, who graduated with an accounting degree, attended Illinois State because it was close to family and was “great value for the cost.” “Attending Illinois State afforded me the opportunity to live at home and work to pay my way through college,” she said. “Illinois State has done tremendous things for our community, and I am so proud that my son, Colt, decided to attend the University.”
“In addition to having a nationally recognized College of Business and being affordable, it was really appealing to have a bit of kinship towards the University,” said Colt, a senior business management and entrepreneurship major. “Knowing that my mom had attended Illinois State and could recommend where to live and what classes to take made it very attractive. It kind of gave me that passing of the torch moment.”
Colt was also drawn to Illinois State because of the ROTC program. “ROTC has been a pivotal point for me in my college career and has led me to join the National Guard,” he said. “I love the relationships I’ve made through my veterans fraternity, Omega Delta Sigma, and business fraternity, Beta Gamma Sigma. The student organizations are great, and they keep students involved and make it feel like home. The culture at the University is also very inviting, and everybody seems very connected and interested in helping you.”
Colt is airborne qualified and would like to be a military intelligence officer with the Texas National Guard. He would also like to work at a civilian job that allows him to apply the knowledge he has gained while pursuing his business degree.
Love family, Normal
Twins Kayla ’18, M.S. ’20, and Kriston Love ’18, M.S. ’20, transferred to Illinois State from Kankakee Community College in 2016. Kayla studied psychology for her undergraduate degree and psychology of sport and physical activity for her master’s. Kriston studied food, nutrition, and dietetics during undergrad and nutrition and dietetics in graduate school.
The twins’ aunt Joyce McGee ’83 and her daughter Jessica McGee ’12, who was on the swim team, also attended Illinois State.
“I decided to attend Illinois State for my undergrad because the first time I took a tour I loved the campus,” Kayla said. “It was just the right size, and I really liked the whole atmosphere. Then I came back for the master’s program because Illinois State offered the program I was looking for, and I love the feel of the community.”
During her undergraduate career, Kayla was part of the campus tour team for two years, a member of the psychology club SPA, and a member of the psychology honors association Psi Chi. “For my master’s I had an Active for Life graduate teaching assistantship where I taught bowling and billiards classes,” she said. “My cohort also put on the Midwest Sport Exercise and Psychology Symposium on campus.”
In the summer of 2019, Kayla went to New Zealand with Assistant Professor Dr. Scott Pierce and a group of students from sports management and sports psychology. “We learned about the sports culture in New Zealand by participating in some of their popular sports, such as lawn bowling, cricket, and attended a professional rugby game,” she said. “In Dunedin, we went to the University of Otago, which is Dr. Pierce’s alma mater, and learned about the sport psychology programs they offered. The country is beautiful, and I had a really great experience.”
When Kriston toured Illinois State’s campus, she met Professor Dr. Nweze Nnakwe. “Meeting her and touring campus really motivated me to pursue dietetics,” Kriston said. “I fell in love with the gorgeous campus, and I liked how my building, Turner Hall, was off campus a bit.”
During undergrad, Kriston was the secretary for the Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics Club and volunteered at the Midwest Food Bank. During graduate school, Kriston was a sports nutrition graduate assistant. She was able to do individual consults with athletes and team talks, and also managed the sports nutrition bar, where she provided pregame, postgame, and halftime nutrition and snacks for the athletes.
“I also volunteered at the School Street Food Pantry, where I was in charge of organizing cooking classes for students. I would choose two to three recipes based on the food offered in the food pantry, and then students could come in and we would teach them how to cook each meal for under $7,” Kriston said.
Kriston had a dietetic internship. “My first rotation was food service at District 87 and OSF St. Joseph, my clinical rotation was at OSF St. Joseph and Memorial Hospital in Springfield, Illinois, and for community I was at the Illinois Cancer Care in Peoria, Illinois, and DMH Wellness in Decatur, Illinois,” Kriston said.
Meyer family, Bloomington
Following in the footsteps of her parents, Tod Meyer ’94, M.S. ’98, and Laura Meyer ’89, sophomore Claire Meyer decided to attend Illinois State to study marketing. Claire grew up attending Illinois State basketball games, Homecoming Parades, and the Taste of Redbirds, and hearing relatives and neighbors talk about their college experiences.
Claire was a member of the inaugural group of McLean County Full Tuition Scholarship winners awarded in 2019. The scholarship is awarded to new freshmen from McLean County for demonstrating leadership, service, and commitment to our community.
“My senior year of high school I was in a class called Innovative Entrepreneurs, where every day we would go to a different local business or college to see their workspaces and learn about how the business ran,” Claire said. “I had the opportunity to come to Illinois State to the State Farm Hall of Business often, so I got to experience the state-of-the-art classrooms, meet some of the faculty, and also experience the beautiful campus. The positive experiences I had with campus visits, along with the scholarship, led me to attend Illinois State.”
During her freshman year at Illinois State, Claire became involved with the Women in Business and a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi pledge class, was an Honors student, and was a member of several different intramural volleyball teams.
With the campus being adjacent to Uptown Normal, Claire has been able to walk to work at Solid Gold Jewelers while going to college.
Laura decided to attend Illinois State because her sister Mary Cluskey ’86, M.S. ’91, was also a student on campus. “The Quad is beautiful, and everyone on campus is so welcoming,” Laura said. “Growing up in Peoria, it was appealing to attend a college that was only a 45 minutes from home.”
Tod, who earned his undergraduate degree in math education and his master’s in educational administration, followed older brother Kip Meyer ’90 to Illinois State. “Kip received a junior high math ed degree, and I wanted to be a math teacher at that point in time,” Tod said. “Illinois State was one of the top middle school math education programs in the nation, and I figured that if they were really good at middle school, they’re probably good at high school. As it turns out my teachers were all really great.”
Porter family, Bloomington
Harris Porter is a junior accounting major and a member of the Redbird cross country and track teams. He comes from a big family of Redbird alums: father Norris Porter ’88, M.S. ’89; mother Beth Porter ’90; brother Brock Porter ’16; sister-in-law Katy Dawson Porter ’17; uncle Blair Porter ’85; and aunt Becky Latoz Porter ’88.
“I wanted to attend Illinois State because a lot of my family members attended the University. They have a great accounting program. I received the Redbird Scholarship, and I could be a member of the track and cross country teams,” Harris said. “This past year I served as secretary for Beta Gamma Sigma. I was the treasurer for the Hewett-Manchester Diversity Coalition, and a member of the Student Accounting Society and the Student Athletic Advisory Council. I have a lot of friends that go to this school and met a lot of people living on the Honors floor at Manchester, so it’s been a great time so far.”
Beth chose Illinois State “because of the College of Education’s quality programs and the reputation of their Special Education Department. Even though I eventually found my passion in the political science department I found that same level of opportunity and helpfulness throughout my journey.”
Beth loved the town and the University so much that she’s never left. “My husband, Norris, and I met the summer before my senior year through mutual friends, so we’re a Redbird connection,” she said.
Beth is currently the administrative aid and budget manager for the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning.
Norris studied business education for his undergraduate degree and business education with a concentration in adult learning theory for his master’s degree. “I decided to attend Illinois State because it was the perfect blend of a larger school that felt much smaller. It was the best decision I ever made as it allowed me to meet my wife,” Norris said.
Norris and Beth support track and field, University High School, the Pay it Forward Scholarship in the College of Business, the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, and WGLT.
Norris worked at Illinois State as an academic advisor, then as an assistant to the dean for Student Services in the College of Business, and finally as development director for the College of Business. He retired after 30 years of service in 2017.
Scheck family, Morton
Sheila Scheck ’95 and her husband, Will Scheck ’95, met at a party during Sheila’s first week on campus in August 1991. “Growing up in Morton, Illinois State was the only place I wanted to go for college. I just really loved the campus, especially the Quad,” Sheila said.
Will had different reasons for attending Illinois State. “I wanted to go to Illinois State because that’s where my friends were going. I visited with my cousin Pam Triphahn, and we both ended up choosing Illinois State,” Will said.
“We both really enjoyed our time at Illinois State and are very happy that our daughter Kayla chose ISU,” Sheila said.
Kayla is a sophomore biology major on a pre-med track. “Illinois State was one of the top schools I looked at, and I chose it because it was close enough to home, but still far enough away where I’d be on my own. I also knew people going there, and I liked the campus from visiting with parents and friends,” Kayla said. “It was also the most affordable option for me. I joined the sorority Chi Omega and have made a lot of great friends.”
As a family the Schecks enjoy coming to campus to tailgate and attend football and basketball games. “We love walking around the Quad and stopping at the Pub II to get cheese balls. We also love the proximity of campus to Uptown Normal, and regularly send Insomnia Cookies to Kayla at her residence hall,” Sheila said.