Montana State University

Presidential cubed: Sidney triplets win MSU's top freshmen scholarship

June 10, 2004 -- by Carol Schmidt, MSU News Service

Aaron, Jared and Brock Hedegaard, (L to R) triplets from Sidney, received Presidential Scholarships to attend Montana State University. (Photo courtesy of the Sidney Herald.)   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
Bozeman -The sons of Tom and Nancy Hedegaard of Sidney, Mont. are accustomed to making an impact. The triplets once composed a third of a Little League team. This year they were the driving force in the state champion Science Olympiad team. And they have already made history at Montana State University even though they have not enrolled yet. All three won MSU's prestigious Presidential Scholarship, the top academic scholarship for incoming freshmen.

While they are not the first set of triplets to attend MSU, they are the first trio to receive the Presidential Scholarship.

Aaron, Brock and Jared Hedegaard each won a renewable tuition waiver plus $2,000 annual scholarship following highly competitive individual competition. This year Presidential Scholarships were given to 13 of Montana's top graduating high school seniors.

"We're absolutely delighted that Aaron, Brock and Jared Hedegaard decided to come to Montana State University," said MSU President Geoff Gamble. "All three are very talented. One of our goals at Montana State University is to keep the brightest Montana students in state. We are able to do that with these young men, and we will give them a superior education."

The quality of engineering education, the Presidential Scholarship, as well as being able to stay in their home state inspired the Hedegaards to abandon plans to go to three different universities.

"I chose MSU-Bozeman because I had heard from a lot of people who considered MSU's engineering program as one of the best you could find in the West," Aaron said.

A National Merit Scholar and co-valedictorian, Aaron plans to major in chemical engineering. While in high school, he was active in speech and drama, theatre, National Honor Society, Leo Club, American Politics Club, Senior Council, his church youth group, jazz bands, a community band and academic competition teams. He was a delegate to Montana Boys State and was drum major for the marching band for two years. He has received numerous awards in the Academic Olympics and math competitions and won three medals at the Montana Science Olympiad as a member of the state champion team. He also works in the USDA Ag Research Center in Sidney.

"I chose chemical engineering because I enjoy chemistry and would like to apply that to solving real-world problems and concerns," said Aaron.

Brock, also a National Merit Scholar and co-valedictorian, plans to major in civil engineering.

"I first became interested with civil engineering when I took several drafting and CAD classes in high school and became a part of Vocational and Industrial Clubs of America (VICA)," he said.

He works as the county engineer's assistant, drafting bridges and maps and occasionally surveying some sites. While in high school, he participated in Leo Club, the American Politics Club, jazz bands, community band, his church youth group and academic competition teams. He was a member of student council, speech and drama, theatre and Montana Boys State. He won first place in drafting at the state VICA competition for two years. He earned five medals in the Montana Science Olympiad.

Jared, who graduated as salutatorian and plans to major in computer science, mixed athletics into his academic schedule. A member of the Sidney Eagles football and track team, he also was involved in the Chess Club, National Honor Society, Leo Club, the Trading Card Program, American Politics Club, choir and choral ensemble, archery league, his church youth group and academic competition teams. He was a medal winner in Science Olympiad and attended Montana Boys State. Jared also began working at the USDA Ag Research Center in Sidney.

"I have been interested in computers since about fourth or fifth grade," Jared said. "During my freshman year, I took a computer programming class and found a special interest in it."

The triplets say hard work went a long way in their excellence.

"In order to be a well-rounded individual, you have to work hard in all of your classes, even if it is not your favorite subject," said Jared. He would like to become a computer programmer or study optometry.

"I believe that if one wants to achieve greatness, one must take the personal responsibility to work at bettering oneself," said Brock. "No waiting until 10 p.m. to start studying."

He wants to earn a master's degree in civil engineering, specializing in structural design.

Aaron suggests that students interested in achieving excellence challenge themselves "and have fun with it." He one day hopes to work for a company development team in creating new chemicals and products.

Aaron adds that his parents encouraged the brothers to do well "and achieve some great things at school.

"Education has been a top priority in my house," he said. "Our parents noticed at a young age that we were very interested in numbers and reading, and they helped us to develop these skills. That encouraged us to excel in other academic pursuits later."

Nancy Hedegaard, mother of the triplets, said that she and her husband, Tom, had no magic formula for producing the academically motivated sons.

"We just told them to do their best at school," said Hedegaard, who is a medical transcriptionist. Her husband works in an oilfield as a lease operator, and neither graduated from college. "They just worked hard at whatever they were doing."

Contact: Clara Sprague (406) 994-4110