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Siblings who stick together: UNI business college is a family affair for some

3 months ago
UNIBusiness Editor
UNI Real Estate Family

When deciding what college or university to attend, high schoolers have to consider myriad factors: size, programs offered, proximity to home and more. But one factor seems to weigh heavily on their choices — family. 

According to a 2014 study from Harvard University and the College Board, about 20% of younger siblings enrolled in the same college as their older sibling. Additionally, about 31% of younger siblings applied to the same college their older sibling attended. The article concluded the relationships between siblings’ college choices may be more than a simple coincidence. 

At UNIBusiness, there have been a number of siblings who have gone through the program, some of them even winding up working in the same industry or company. 

The Hedstroms

Austin Hedstrom (Real Estate and Finance, ’14) was the first of the brothers. Originally from a small town in western Iowa, the Hedstrom brothers — Austin the older, Lucas and Tanner, who are twins, the younger — were all interested in math and numbers. 

When Austin was looking for a college to attend in the fall of 2010, he wanted an institution that was strong in business, particularly finance. UNIBusiness was the perfect fit for a boy from small-town Iowa. It offered the amenities of a bigger college with smaller class sizes and a homely campus. Near the completion of his degree, he added real estate as a double major to bolster his resume. 

The Hedstrom Family

Pictured from left to right: Tanner Hedstrom, Lucas Hedstrom, Jeff Killpack, Tracey Killpack, Austin Hedstrom, and Meredith Young

Lucas (Real Estate and Finance, ’18) decided next. He was accepted to UNI and wanted to follow in Austin’s footsteps, majoring in finance and real estate. Tanner (Real Estate and Finance, ’19) almost attended another state university, but decided on UNI because of its robust business program and his siblings. 

“The class sizes were small enough that the teacher knew you, and the campus was small enough where you’d didn’t have to walk six miles to every class,” Lucas said. “I think following Austin and putting myself in his shoes helped lead me there.” 

The three brothers only overlapped for one semester, but they followed similar paths, taking part in Rho Epsilon and adding real estate majors to their education. Lucas and Austin said it was helpful to follow in Austin’s footsteps, which assisted in making valuable connections. 

While Lucas and Tanner were in school, Tanner took an opportunity at JLL, a commercial real estate firm in Chicago that was planting roots in Des Moines. As the JLL team and client base grew, Lucas and Tanner both jumped aboard. 

Today, all three brothers work for JLL, albeit in different capacities. Austin is the vice president, Tanner is an analyst, brokerage support and Lucas works as an associate broker. It’s interesting working together, but the siblings find that they understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. 

“We just complement each other,” Tanner said. “We’ve obviously lived together for 18 years, and we went to college together. We’ve worked in and out with each other throughout the years. So we have a pretty good idea of what each other does and how each other works, so we work pretty cohesively together and effectively as a team.”  

The Klostermanns

The Klostermanns






When McKayla Klostermann (Real Estate and Finance, ’19) visited her brother Dextar while he attended UNI, she was struck by just how at home the campus felt. She was interested in numbers and business, like her brother, and wanted a place that felt peaceful — not too big, but not too small. 

While Dextar (Real Estate and Finance) graduated in 2014, a year before McKayla attended college, McKayla said his choosing of UNI was a big influence in her decision. 

“Partially, I wanted to follow him, and I knew the business school was good, too,” McKayla said. “That was a big part of my decision because I knew I was doing business.” 

Dextar’s connections at the college came in handy for McKayla. She met Arthur Cox, the head of the real estate program, who recognized her as Dextar’s sister. Cox ended up being a huge guiding force for both Dextar and McKayla during their college experiences. Dextar was a big influence in McKayla adding real estate as a double major as well. 

McKayla now works as a credit analyst associate at Fidelity Bank and Trust in Dubuque. She helps underwrite commercial agriculture loans. Dextar works as a commercial appraiser for Rally Appraisal in Dubuque. Their work sometimes overlaps, and it keeps things interesting. 

“It gives us a lot more things to talk about, and we have a lot more in common,” McKayla said. “We go back and forth sometimes because he does some appraisals for my company. It’s interesting to talk about that and see what he’s doing and his workflow.” 

The Franzens

Franzen Families






Pictured far left is Levi; far right Jason

Jason and Levi Franzen come from a business background. Their dad is a general contractor and owned a lumberyard for as long as they can remember. When it came time to choose their career paths, they contemplated both business and engineering, ultimately settling on business.  

Jason (Real Estate and Finance, ’00), the older brother, liked UNI because of its quality business school and decent size. That’s what drew Levi (Real Estate and Finance, ’03) there as well. He was looking at some Division II or Division III schools for sports, but decided to go to UNI to study business. 

“When I started looking at larger schools, UNI was at the top of my list,” Levi said. “I had gone there and visited Jason has had a really good time. And you felt like you were at home and didn’t feel out of place.” 

The two brothers overlapped for a year. They enjoyed their experiences together while still staying within their own friend groups. Now in their professional careers, they frequently use mutual connections from UNI to do business. Jason is a managing director at Principal Real Estate Investors in Des Moines. Levi is a senior real estate relationship manager with U.S. Bank in Des Moines. They and their families live just miles from each other, which makes for an interesting relationship — in a good way. 

“Yeah, we do talk about it a lot when we’re together, so I would say that’s a challenge,” Jason said with a laugh. “Sometimes our wives will tell us when we need to talk about different things.” 


UNI Business

UNIBusiness Editor

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