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Chico State

Mother, Son Turned Classmates Learn From Each Other

Mother hugs her son while they pose for a photo.
(Photos by Jason Halley / University Photographer)

Chico State has been a second home to countless families who’ve shared and cherished the Wildcat experience. For these families—and more than 177,000 alumni—Chico State is not just a university or campus. It is the branches of the family tree. This is one of six profiles of families who are rooted in their Wildcat connection.

Evone LaCombe and her son, Kevin, were familiar with seeing each other at school. She worked for the Willows Unified School District while Kevin (Kinesiology, ’22) was a high school student. She also coached his 8th grade and junior varsity basketball teams, as well as his JV and varsity track teams.

However, it was wholly different when the mother and son attended Chico State as undergraduates at the same time.

Kevin, 23, and Evone, 53, were overlapping kinesiology students for two semesters—an experience the duo called unique and inspiring.

“It was an interesting experience during my final years here to see my mom on campus and taking classes,” he said. “I never saw that happening.”

When Kevin enrolled at Chico State in 2018, his mom was at home after retiring for medical reasons. Thirteen years ago, Evone was diagnosed with lupus and had to be hospitalized. Once in remission and with medication, she wanted to advance the career she had to cut short.

“I had to give up coaching and then eventually my job because of my health, but I made the decision that I wasn’t going to sit around and do nothing,” she said. “I started taking a couple of classes at Butte College, and once I finished, I transferred to Chico State and the kinesiology program because I’ve always wanted to be a PE teacher.”

It was amusing at times, Kevin said, running into his mom around campus, but also motivating and helpful.

For an online “Biomechanics” class they shared, Kevin drove from Chico to his mom’s home in Willows to study alongside her. Their approaches to the class format and material were different, but they learned things from each other during their time as classmates. While Kevin kept his camera off during online classes and was experiencing a bout of senioritis, Evone turned on her camera and was elated to be in college.

Evone LaCombe sits on a stationary bike while her son, Kevin, stands next to her resting his left arm on the handles of a separate stationary bike.

Driven and passionate about learning, the mother of three said that when there is something she wants to achieve, she makes it happen.

Kevin said it’s impressive to see his mom restart school and thrive in her new environment. She’s “starting from scratch” and excelling in the classroom, he said. She is always networking in the department and it’s great to see people in the program are eager to help her.

“I’m inspired by my mom,” he said. “First off, she moved up from working in the cafeteria to overseeing the nutrition program for the (Willows) School District—she leveled up in that career. Then she had to stop (working) after her illness but went on to pursue something else that she’s always wanted to do.”

For Evone, she often thinks about what she lost because it gives her perspective.

“It’s a blessing to be healthy again and to be able to pursue a career in kinesiology because I couldn’t exercise for several years and that’s what I’ve always done,” she said. “When people ask me what my hobby was, it was working out.”

Both Kevin and Evone said they recognize that their shared college experience was rare and special, and they cherish the memories they created during their two semesters together.

Evone distinctly remembers attending Kevin’s graduation last year. She not only experienced a surge of pride to watch her son receive his diploma, but it served as a source of inspiration to push harder to finish her own college degree.

Kevin, in turn, said he is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to cheer on his mom when it’s her turn to don her cap and gown this May.