Montana State University

Life's pretty normal for history-making triplets

May 9, 2006 -- By Tracy Ellig, MSU News Service


The Hedegaard triplets from Sidney, Mont., are the only triplets to win Montana State University's prestigious Presidential Scholarship. From left to right are: Jared, Aaron and Brock Hedegaard. Photo by Jay Thane.   High-Res Available

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
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Bozeman - Ask the Hedegaard triplets from Sidney, Mont., how the first two years of their college lives have differed from other students and you're met with a long and surprising silence.

After all, they are the only set of triplets to ever enter Montana State University as Presidential Scholars. It's the most prestigious scholarship the school has to offer incoming freshman. Students receive a full tuition waiver and $2,000 each year to cover other expenses.

Then there's the fact that all three of them are getting excellent grades in engineering. Jared is in computer science; Brock is in civil engineering and Aaron is in chemical engineering.

But having been born together, raised together and spent the first two years of college living together, their kinship seems as natural as breathing. So how's that different from most students?

"That's hard to answer," Aaron said. "We've each known having two brothers forever. However, it is nice to know there's someone around that you really know and understand and who understands you."

They don't offer any entertaining stories about being mistaken for each other, since well, they hardly look anything alike. Brock has a beard and Aaron wears glasses. What they've found different about college life isn't specific to them.

"One of the biggest surprises was the massive number of skiers. There are people who go three and four times a week," Jared said.

"It's unbelievable," Brock said.

And there was first-year dorm life ...

"It takes some getting used to sharing a bathroom with 20 people," Jared joked. "But you do."

... and the adjustment to being on their own for the first time.

"I really feel like I've learned more about being a responsible individual," Aaron said. "Every time I get bogged down I realize that there is only one person that's going to get me out of this, and that's me."

By car, Sidney is as far from Bozeman as Salt Lake City or Spokane. The distance hasn't bothered the triplets much, but they know it's been hard on their parents. Nancy Hedegaard is a medical transcriptionist. Her husband Tom works in an oilfield as a lease operator.

"When the whole house moves out it's pretty tough," Aaron said.

"The first semester I think it was pretty hard on them," Jared said. "They made sure to call one of us every day."

With two years down, the brothers are starting to think about life after graduation. They grew up with a love for science and math, but also for Montana. That's created a bit of a predicament.

"The placement rate for jobs for chemical engineers is incredible," Aaron said. "But many go to Texas or California. I've never really been much of a traveler. I like Montana, so it's kind of a dilemma. Jobs for chemical engineers in Sidney are non-existent. In Montana, they're scarce."

Having a job in Montana has always been one of Jared's goals. He's more optimistic than Aaron about finding work in the state, but not necessarily Sidney.

"There are computer networking positions in Sidney," he said. "I could probably find a job, but it would be tough."

As for Brock, his civil engineering degree will allow him to "pretty much work anywhere," he said.

He's worked as the assistant to Richland County's engineer and there's been some murmuring that he's the perfect replacement, but Brock is not so sure.

"Right at the moment, I'm not really sure what I want to do after graduation," he said. "I'm not sure I want to jump into the workforce. I'm pretty sure there is more school in my future, probably a Ph.D."

Contact: Aaron, Brock and Jared Hedegaard at (406) 994-3834 or ahedegaard@montana.edu, bhedegaard@montana.edu and jaredh@montana.edu.