Utah State Today regularly highlights work created by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. The following story was initially published in The Utah Statesman on Jan. 8, prior to its inclusion in Utah State Today.
Two students walk onto campus, one seeking a business degree and the other seeking to finish an integrated studies degree. What they have in common — meeting in a hospital delivery room 22 years prior.
Those two people are mother and son.
22-year-old Christopher and 47-year-old Loralee Choate have plans to attend Utah State University together this upcoming semester.
Christopher is pursuing a license in applied economics and a potential business degree, and Loralee is finishing her final twelve credits of integrated studies after an over 20-year break in her undergraduate education.
During her collegiate break, Loralee became a mother to three boys. Though only a few months after the conception of her second son, he unfortunately passed away.
Due to the immense grief of losing a child, Loralee said she turned to blog writing to cope with her emotion.
After only a few months, Loralee’s blog gained an influx of local and national attention. She gained support and acknowledgment from multiple companies and news sources, such as CNN, and eventually even a White House visit where the mellifluous family was also able to sing.
“In every place I went, I was able to use the skills I had learned at USU, obviously the writing aspect, but also public relations when negotiating social strategies or even marketing my product,” Loralee said.
The skills she attained also helped Loralee to be a devoted mother to her children and wife to her fellow choral aficionado, her husband, Jonathon.
She originally paused her undergraduate studies to raise her children Christopher and Matthew.
Christopher took after his parents with an extreme love for music. He started out with violin and then progressed to the cello. After pursuing his musical string career, he followed his parents, joining choir around the age of 14.
“It was perfect, because my voice ended up being the same range as the cello, so the transition from cello to choir was extremely easy,” Christopher said.
Additionally, with two extremely choral parents, Christopher needed very little advanced singing training since growing up in the Choate family was training enough.
From silly little children’s songs to Latin arias, from a young age Christopher was immersed in music and singing and had an obvious natural choral talent.
Because his love of music started at a young age, Christopher made a promise to himself that in college, he would be involved in choir.
Of course, this news overjoyed his mother and father, who had originally met singing in the Utah State Chamber Singers. When they found out that Christopher was also to be an Aggie, their joy turned to euphoria.
After sending Christopher off to school, Loralee learned from a friend that credits expire after a certain number of years.
“I only had 12 credits left, and so I decided I had to finish my degree,” Loralee said.
Though many mother-son pairings would be skeptical braving the college experience together as students, these two are excited to learn together and sing in the USU Chamber Singers under one of their favorite conductors, the chair of the Utah State choral department, Cory Evans.
“I have always counted it an honor to be able to direct the ensemble I loved as a student, and now to have one of my old classmates sing in the group is wonderful,” Evans said. “I also think it’s remarkable that she has returned to school after being away for so long, and to have her son now sing in Chamber Singers with her is extra special.”
He is looking forward to having them both as students this coming semester.
“Music brings us together like nothing else does,” Evans said.
Loralee and Christopher Choate are living representations of this. Music has brought them closer together — more than geographically — and it has helped them examine new passions, try new things and become new people.