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MSU Profiles

Home is where the heart is

While he would do it all over again, 12 years away from home, family, and all that he knew was enough for MSU alumnus Jason Burckhard. Life at a distance was good, but the expression, "Home is where the heart is," rang true in Burckhard's mind. Ultimately, it brought him back to the Magic City.

"It was a terribly hard decision," Burckhard confessed. "My wife, Andrea (Albertson), and I had great jobs. Professionally, things were good and falling into place, but something was missing."

Jason Burckhard was born and raised in Minot. He graduated from Minot High and decided Minot State University was the right fit for him when it came to higher education. Jason Burckhard's father, Randy Burckhard '74, mother Patricia (Wolfe) Burckhard '74, sisters Jerica (Burckhard) Klein '99 and Tifany (Burckhard) Teets had all attended or earned degrees from Minot State. All three siblings entered health care professions. Not only did he feel MSU was a good university, but it was close to home.

"MSU had all I needed," Jason Burckhard said. "As I progressed in school, I liked it more and more. My teachers knew me by name, and I worked with a close-knit group. It was a very personalized education that left a lasting impression."

While attending MSU from 2000 to 2003, Jason Burckhard lived at home, focused on his studies and worked most weekends. He also met his wife, Andrea, another Minot native, over one Christmas break.

"She attended Yale University, and we met through mutual friends," Burckhard said. "We had a great time, and, before I knew it, phone calls led me to book a trip to visit her in New Haven, Conn., over Easter weekend. We dated long distance a couple of years."

They would, however, be reunited again. During Jason's third year at MSU, he was ecstatic to learn he was accepted at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. He jumped at the opportunity, but, again, something was missing.

"I wanted my bachelor's degree to come from MSU," Jason Burckhard said. "I worked really hard in the three years I spent there, and it was like leaving a family. I kept bugging my adviser, Dr. Richard Barkosky. I was only two classes short of a degree, so he found a way to transfer a couple of classes. Minot High made MSU possible, and then MSU made dental school possible."

Thanks in part to Barkosky's doing some footwork, Burckhard earned his Bachelor of Arts in Biology from MSU in 2005. He graduated from the U of M School of Dentistry in 2007, and Andrea was now in chiropractic school in Minnesota. Burckhard moved to complete his orthodontic residency at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2009. After seven years of courting, much of it from a distance, Jason and Andrea married in 2009. They moved to West Fargo and lived there until 2011. Later that year, Burckhard started practicing at Lake

Minnetonka Orthodontics in the Twin Cities. He would remain there until 2015, when a growing family made the couple rethink the future.

"I am, and always will be, fond of the good people I worked with at Lake Minnetonka Orthodontics," Burckhard said. "It was hard to tell them that Andrea and I felt we needed to move home. They wanted me there, and I loved it. But metro life is busy with two working parents, a child and no family around to help. It was hard. We decided the bottom line was family. We realized that this is what we were missing."

So a plan was put in place. They not only decided Minot was where they wanted to be, but also where they would open their own businesses.

"We decided to start our businesses from scratch," Burckhard said. "This allowed us to develop what we wanted in a business. I like to know all aspects of things. I need to know the nooks and crannies of my business and how we treat people, which allows me to better understand and pass that on to others."

In July 2015, they opened the doors to adjoining businesses — Burckhard Orthodontics and Spine and Sport Chiropractic. The businesses are beginning to grow, and relationships have played a key role in that growth.

"Andrea and I were always involved in the communities where our offices were," Burckhard said. "I was just getting to the point where families were saying they wanted to see Dr. Burckhard. That takes time in a well-established group practice like the one I was at. But moving home, I had some of those connections instantly. I like feeling connected to where I live and work. If you treat people right, everything has potential to be what you want it to be. Since we opened, the community has been so receptive to us being here."

Being involved in one's community was something Burckhard often witnessed growing up. "You see how my dad and mom are involved, and you learn from that," he said. "Even our neighborhood growing up was like family. It took us having a family of our own to see how important that was."

A lot can change in 12 years. The city of Minot has grown immensely since 2003, with more diverse demographics, but there was still no question for the Burckhards that Minot was where they wanted to live.

"Minot has changed and is growing, and I like that, but Minot still feels like the home we remember," Burckhard said. "I am constantly bumping into friends and family. Like my dad, I have the gift to gab, so a ‘quick' trip to Target is never quick, as I am bound to run into somebody I know. And I can't get over how many young families are in church! There's so much energy here."

Burckhard noted that not only has Minot changed, but MSU has also changed, and not just brick and mortar.

"There is so much life at MSU, more than ever before," he said. "There's a new sense of energy that I feel. So many more people are promoting it as the great place that it is, and I try to spread that message. You don't have to go someplace else to get a great education. You can get it right here in Minot. I love what I'm hearing about MSU."

Now that he's back in Minot, Burckhard is reconnecting with his alma mater. Robert Crackel, associate professor of chemistry, was in search of local professionals to present to the Biology Club and asked Burckhard.

"It was so fun to be back on campus and catch up with different professors," Burckhard said. "I met with the Biology Club and let the students be a major part of my presentation, so they could get information to help them in their career decisions. I talked about my career path and how MSU was a big piece of the picture for me."

Burckhard also noted all that the state of North Dakota is doing to support higher education.

"I moved back, and I heard all about student loans and the Bank of North Dakota's Deal One Loan," he said. "But being back and knowing there is so much support from the state to consolidate student loans to lower interest rates for student debt is great. When I met with the students, I told them that student loans are for real and so are the payments. I am so thankful for MSU, as I was able to pay for a lot of school when I was attending."

For Burckhard, there is no longer "something missing." He is home, near family, where he and Andrea can spend time with family. Their two sons, Blake, 2 1/2, and Bennet, 5 months, can grow to know their grandparents.

"It's been wonderful," Burckhard said, "to take our son to grandma's, and he doesn't want to leave! And all the support we have gotten from not only family, but also friends and the entire community. This past year has been … wow."