EXPOSITION PARK (CBSLA) — In a sea of more than 3,000 students moving into the dorms at the University of Southern California, a certain foursome stands out from the crowd.
The siblings — 17-year-old triplets Ireland, Kala and Smith Shute and 19-year-old Cole — are all starting at the school this fall. The triplets as freshman, and Cole as a transferring sophomore.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Ireland said. “Smith and I live in the same residence hall, so if we need anything, we just go back and forth — it’s pretty easy. And Kala lives like super close.”
All four moved onto the campus Wednesday, the same school their mother attended.
“I think that’s how the cookie crumbled,” Smith said. “Yeah, we all applied to a variety of different schools, but we all ended up somehow falling together at USC, and I think it’s going to be a wild ride to say the least.”
Their mother raised the four siblings on her own while working as a physician’s assistant at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center. She died two years ago from cancer.
“All of us together was an accident, but I think it’s like I guess a blessing in disguise for us all to kind of be together, because it’s kind of how we’ve always been,” Kala said. “We’ve always been a super close family unit, even in the ups and downs.”
Three of the siblings are planning to follow in their mother’s footsteps and study medicine — Kala is still deciding what she wants to study.
“I feel like she wouldn’t want us to be sad, because she always wanted us to be happy growing up,” Cole said. “And even now, I’m pretty sure that — obviously she’d be happy to see us here — but she would hate to see us upset. Even though she’s gone, she would probably want us to, you know, tackle USC with all we can and come out successful.”
After their mother died, Smith said the siblings felt like they had lost more than their mother — they had lost her guidance.
“Once things start getting a little bumpy, we all need kind of a guiding light, I guess, to look to,” Smith said. “And after our mom passed away, we all kind of felt for a little while that we wouldn’t really have one, and then Chris and Joe came in and they gave us one.”
Chris Lee and her husband Joe first heard about the siblings from their son Trevor, who went to school with the foursome. And now the Lee family is adopting the Shute siblings.
“We didn’t want them to just be lost kids somewhere,” Chris said. “And we knew that, just with so much potential, we wanted to help them out. We wanted to guide them. It’s like Smith said, yeah they’re going to be adults, they’re all going to be 18 soon, but they still need guidance.”
The Lees are set to officially adopt the Shutes Friday.