Robert Isaac Choate, ‘Everything Happens For a Reason’

Isaac Choate graduated from Stetson with a double major in Professional Sales and Finance with a concentration in Investments.

Note: Robert Isaac Choate is part of a small group of high-achieving seniors to be highlighted in the 2024 Hatter Headliners series.

For Robert Isaac Choate — who recently graduated from Stetson with a double major in Professional Sales and Finance with a concentration in Investments — the path to find his calling was a challenging one, and his arrival to Stetson was serendipitous.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I am a firm believer of that.”

Choate, 23, attended the Phillips Exeter Academy, a boarding school in New Hampshire, where he was a member of the football team. Prior to his high school graduation, he had a few offers to attend college and play football. However, during the first game of his senior year — back in 2018 — Choate fractured all the fingers in his right hand.

“I decided that I was going to keep playing because I wanted to play in college,” he said. “But, I had a cast on the second game and dislocated and separated my shoulder.”

From that moment, all offers Choate had received to play football at the collegiate level were off, and so the college search resumed.

“I was kind of in a scram, looking for some place to go last minute,” he said. “I came down to Stetson on a rowing trip when they had just opened the Sandra Stetson Aquatic Center and I really loved the campus, loved how green it was and the class sizes. But I was still really committed to play college sports so, I decided to take a year off school.”

Finding the Hat

Born into a family of military men, Choate considered serving his country.

“I always knew, no matter what I did, that I wanted to try and continue the legacy the men in my family had done before me,” he said. “All the men in my family served, except for my dad — he went to college and was the first person in our family to get a law degree. So, I figured that trying the service route would allow me to serve my family and my country.”

The opportunity to do so presented itself during his year off school, when Choate was working a couple of jobs in South Florida. He received a congressional nomination to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point.

“Unfortunately, I had a problem when I was a kid that involved the thyroid,” he said. “So, when I had my medical testing done, it came back a little bit outside of the normal chart so, I lost that nomination.”

Following that, Choate applied to Stetson on rolling admission and once he was admitted, he never looked back.

“Since my admission, I’ve tried different things to do on campus,” he said.

Robert Isaac Choate: “I had put all my identity into being an athlete and when that didn’t work out, I was jumping ship trying to figure it out.”

Choate was a two-year member of the men’s rowing team and was part of the Sigma Psi Epsilon fraternity his freshman year. He currently is a member of the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity and, up until his graduation, he was the peer tutor on campus for professional sales.

Initially, Choate had the intention of becoming a doctor, as he truly enjoys helping people. However, after taking biochemistry his freshman year he realized he had found himself, yet again, at another crossroads.

“I didn’t know what to do with my life,” he said. “I had put all my identity into being an athlete and when that didn’t work out, I was jumping ship trying to figure it out. Growing up, and coming into Stetson as a freshman, I think that most of the time I was chasing expectations that were not really mine, but instead, what I thought I was supposed to do. The problem with that is, when you mess up, you don’t have another option.”

It was when Choate stared closely at his crossroads that Stetson’s experiential learning opportunities came into play. He decided to take on classes from the School of Business Administration and that’s when he found his true passions: sales and finance.

“That was more my route,” he said. “I was really good with numbers, and then I took Dr. (Dena) Hale’s sales class, where she challenged me and the environment was very competitive. Following that semester, I put Finance and Professional Sales as my majors and since then, I haven’t looked back.”

Historical Achievements

Stetson’s Centurion Sales Competition Team (from left): Simon Choate, Robert ‘Isaac’ Choate, Rosaileen ‘Rosa’ Vega, Dakota Phillips and Valen Siddhartha Shankar Brown

During his time at Stetson, Choate was part of the Roland George Investments Program and the captain of the Centurion Sales Competition team.

“Isaac has always been a competitive person,” said Dena Hale, PhD, assistant professor of sales and marketing. “As the captain of the Centurion Sales Competition Team, he took the team to historical accomplishments. He developed from winning member of the team to the leader of the team, to the mentor of the next group of students in the Centurion Sales Program.”

In November 2023, Choate and his sales teammates won Stetson’s first-ever national title at the 2023 International Collegiate Sales Competition, known as the “World Cup of Sales.” A few months later, in March 2024, the team placed first at the National Collegiate Sales Competition.

“It was the first time Stetson had won the National Collegiate Sales Competition,” Choate said. “It was the first time in history that any school had won both of those in the same calendar year.”

The Road Ahead

Dena Hale, PhD

Moving forward, Choate will embark on a new adventure — which will take him all the way to Dallas —  as an information technology sales consultant for the mid-size enterprise accounts in the financial institution wing of Gardner, Inc.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to know Isaac over the years and am eager to hear of his successes yet to come as a member of an exclusive sales group within the Business Consulting Industry,” Hale said. “Issac, you can’t sell anything until you can sell yourself.  You do that well… Now, don’t forget who you are and whose you are.”

Choate’s Q&A

How do you feel the experiential learning opportunities at Stetson differ from traditional classroom learning? 
What I really like about Stetson is that they kind of intertwine the experiential learning with the curriculum in classes. So, as a double major in Professional Sales and Finance, both of those programs have premiere opportunities. As part of the Roland George Investments Program we get to manage about $6.5 million of the school’s endowment fund. The Centurion Sales Competition team utilizes all the stuff you do in the classes and takes you to a bunch of different competitions across the United States. It was really amazing to get to apply all the stuff that I got to learn in the classroom and to be recognized not only as a student, but as a competitor as well. It’s been pretty incredible this past couple of years.

What was the most important thing you learned at Stetson?
I would say the most important thing I learned here is that opportunities are limitless and endless as long as you keep looking for them. No matter how bad it gets, there is always going to be another mountain to climb and another place you can go in your life. I failed a couple of times here, it’s really difficult, but there are so many opportunities that if I mess up going left, I can take a right and it’s going to be totally fine.

– Andrea Mujica