Posted:February 08, 2018
With the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea kicking off February 9, we are excited to highlight an Olympian of our own – Jason Hedstrand, Century College ’02 graduate and Alumni Association board member.
Jason grew up in Shoreview playing hockey with the neighborhood kids in their backyard rink. He was fast and he knew it. After missing the 1998 Olympic trials by only 2.5 seconds, he dug deep, determined to make the 2002 trials. His relentless training and perseverance paid off.
Jason qualified for and attended the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics in the 10,000 meter speed skating event, coming in 12th place at 00:13:32:99, and setting a national record for team USA.
Jason experienced another accomplishment in 2002 – he graduated from Century College with an Associate of Arts degree, completing a six year endeavor.
“I like to say that I was on the 6:2 plan,” he says. Not every student would prefer to take 6 years to complete a two-year degree, but for Jason, the plan was perfect.
Because of his intense training schedule, Jason needed flexible college courses that would work around his ice time. So, for six years, Jason alternated between a technical college in Wisconsin (fall semesters) and Century College (spring semesters), because he needed to go where the ice was… and the Guidant John Rose MN Oval didn’t get ice until November 15.
When in Minnesota, Jason would bike to school - 20 miles, one way - as part of his training. Naturally, one of his favorite classes was mountain biking, but he also really enjoyed business classes with Century College faculty Richard Knoble. “He always came dressed to the nines, like he was ready to do business. He made all the students excited about business,” Jason recalls.
Jason also remembers a world religion class that was so tough, Jason felt proud to be one of only a handful of students left standing at the end of the semester. That was the only time he celebrated a “C” grade in college!
“Across the board, that was one thing that always impressed me about Century, is that these teachers were so passionate about teaching, and passionate about their area of expertise.”
In addition to being extremely convenient and accommodating to his schedule, Jason also lauded Century for being a good value, and having a good reputation – characteristics that Jason still prioritizes today in his current occupation.
After Century, Jason transferred to Bethel University to complete a bachelor’s degree in business management, and now runs the family business, Focal Point Financial Services, in White Bear Lake.
However, Jason didn’t always have his sights set on a career path in business. “I really enjoy outdoors, and I really enjoy bird watching,” he says. “In high school I thought maybe I’d be a wildlife biologist. It still is sort of my dream,” he says, “but I realize it’s a better hobby than a career; sometimes it’s better to have a career that can support the hobby.”
As an independent local business owner, Jason has the freedom to do just that. Both he and his wife were raised in families that valued road trips and camping, and they and their four children have continued the tradition.
“The business can own you, or you can own the business,” he says. Jason prefers to own the business, making flexibility a priority and encouraging others to do the same.
Century College inspires, prepares, and empowers students to succeed in a changing world. Our vision is to be a national leader in transforming lives through an innovative, rigorous, and compassionate approach to education.