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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Scholarship honors deceased student

Aaron Drange, 20. Courtesy of Chico State.

Chico State will be offering a music scholarship in remembrance of recently deceased student Aaron Drange.

Drange, 20, was found unconscious in the swimming pool of his Chico apartment on July 15 and pronounced dead at Enloe Medical Center. He will be remembered as a dedicated and talented musician by his family and friends through the new scholarship.

Drange’s parents established the Aaron Drange Memorial Scholarship so people can honor and remember his talent and contribution as a student at Chico State, said Daria Booth, the advancement director for the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

Booth is responsible for helping people establish support for programs, students and faculty in the college.

“The scholarship is a way to instill his legacy here – to inspire other music students and to honor a wonderful student who meant a great deal to many people here in Chico and in his hometown,” Booth said.

Aaron’s older brother, Matt Drange, has been connecting family and friends who wish to donate to the fund by making a Facebook page that gives information on how to contribute, he said.

“We’re really hoping the scholarship will go to someone like Aaron, who has a passion for music,” Matt Drange said.

Drange’s family wants the scholarship to help further the music education of a student who goes above and beyond, he said.

“Aaron never had much money but it never stopped him from putting his videos on YouTube,” Matt Drange said.

More than 60 donations have been made and the scholarship fund is now exceeding $5,000 with donations still arriving daily, Booth said.

Before he died, Aaron spoke about setting up a music scholarship to help students achieve their dreams, Matt Drange said.

“His whole life was music – everything else didn’t compare,” he said. “That’s why we wanted to do the scholarship because that’s what he would’ve wanted.”

Aaron Drange was born on March 28, 1994 and grew up in the Los Angeles area. He enrolled at Chico State beginning in the fall 2012 semester.

Drange played the saxophone, piano and sang. He performed in the Chamber Singers, A Cappella Choir, Jazz X-Press and Symphonic Wind Ensemble.

He was a member of the Upstairs Neighbours, a local band made of Chico State students. The band was his number one priority and the reason why he was taking so many music classes, said Phillip Drange, Aaron Drange’s twin brother and current Chico State student.

Rocky Winslow, a professor in the Music and Theatre department, said he will remember Aaron as more of a son than a student.

“Aaron was just coming into it, he was just starting to find himself,” Winslow said. “He was really going to be something special.”

Aaron took music very seriously but he also loved having fun, Phillip Drange said.

“He could seem very serious to other people but he was really just a goofy guy who joked around a lot,” he said. “I‘m going to miss him laughing and making very bad puns.”

The Butte County Coroner’s Office said Drange died from drowning. The toxicology report showed no signs of drug or alcohol in his system.

Matt Drange said his family believes the drowning was likely caused by a shallow water blackout.

A shallow water blackout is when a person continuously holds their breath for a long time before diving under water, according to The person faints under water due to the lack of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body, which triggers the need to breathe. While the person is unconscious, water fills up the body.

Aaron Drange’s family and Winslow said they believe he may have been trying to increase his lung capacity for his musical instruments by holding his breath under water.

Winslow said he and Aaron Drange had been playing in the Chico State music ensemble throughout the summer for freshman orientations.

“Absolute dedication and that’s what killed him,” Winslow said. “Aaron was constantly trying to improve as a musician.”

This is the family’s best guess but the reality is they will never know for sure, Matt Drange said.

“My family would like to thank the entire Chico community for their constant support in the past month,” he said.

“I’m just going to remember him as my twin brother who I could tell anything to,” Phillip Drange said. “We were taking on the world together.”

To make a contribution to the scholarship, checks can be mailed to the Aaron Drange Memorial Scholarship with attention to Daria Booth in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, 400 W. First St. Chico, CA 95929-0800.

For more information, visit the Aaron Drange Memorial Scholarship Facebook page.

Madison Holmes can be reached at[email protected] or @madisonholmes95 on Twitter.

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