Sarah Lederman is a woman with a plan – and it’s not just any plan. Hers is a plan to own and operate her own business.
Sarah is goal-oriented and practical. Before the Hesston freshman set foot on campus, Sarah earned her cosmetology license and was prepared to work while she pursued a formal business education. She appreciates learning about how to pay taxes, handle payroll and bills and how to effectively manage employees, all while also putting in a few hours each week as a stylist at Studio 400: A Salon on the Plaza in Hesston. It’s all a part of her plan.
Few college freshman have decided what they really want to do with their lives, and even fewer contemplate the possibility of owning their own business. Of those who ponder it, even fewer are as confident as Sarah in their decision to work for themselves and recognize their gifts as leaders. However, when you consider Sarah’s family, it’s no surprise she’s got a streak of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Sarah is the daughter of Todd ’81 and Cindy (Troyer) ’82 Lederman of Middlebury, Ind. She and her two brothers, Joel ’06 and Kenyon ’09, grew up in the world of family business.
“Growing up, my parents were able to set their own hours and make time for family,” Sarah said. “I like the idea of being in charge and using my leadership abilities just like I saw my parents doing.”
Her parents weren’t the only ones she watched handling their own businesses. Sarah’s grandparents, Ora and Mary Troyer of Goshen, Ind., were also an influence on her decision to pursue a life of running a business as a person of faith, she says. The reports they had heard of Hesston College’s ability to translate that kind of practice into the classroom is what gave them peace of mind when they sent their children Eric and Cindy half-way across the country to attend college.
“We heard people talking about Hesston and recommending it as a nurturing place,” Ora says. “We saw it as a good place to get started on college.”
One generation later, all of Cindy and Todd’s children have gotten their start at Hesston, too.
To hear Sarah tell the story, she “never had other options” for where she would go to college. Both of her parents are Hesston alumni, and she fell in love with the campus on visits to see her older brothers when she was in high school.
Todd sees it a little differently. He and Cindy encouraged their children to consider other colleges as options, “secretly hoping they’d choose Hesston.”
After all, the family’s alumni connection also extends to Bethany Christian High School, with all five of them graduating from there as well.
“As a result of the early years Cindy and I spent in Kansas, Hesston really became a beautiful home for us,” Todd says. “As our children were raised and growing up, the love of the community and school just developed naturally in them, too.”
“It’s been very exciting for us to see all our kids go to Hesston,” Cindy says.
Kenyon, Joel and Sarah all opted to pursue business, just like their father. It doesn’t surprise their parents when they reflect on family dinners where the topic of conversation was business or all the times the kids pitched in and helped out. It was important for the Ledermans that their children also grow up learning that it’s possible to be Christian businesspeople.
“My education at Hesston let me know that it’s possible to run your business as a Christian,” Todd says. “If you take the high road and do what’s right, that’s what I believe God calls us to do.”
A lot of that business education came by way of classes with long-time Hesston College business professor Bill Mason. The practical knowledge and real-world perspectives that Mason shares with his students is one of the things that made Todd most excited about having all of his children take business classes from the same instructor who played such a significant role in his own life.
In addition to the practical knowledge Todd and Cindy know their children have gleaned from getting their professional starts at Hesston, they’re also moved by the way the college also shaped their children into whole adults.
“We firmly believe in Christian education that focuses on the social, spiritual and academic experience,” Todd says. “It’s why we continue to support the college as Partners; we see this kind of an education as an investment, not an expense.”
Sarah is particularly grateful for the spiritual and social growth she’s experiencing as a student.
“My life would be so different without the spiritual focus on everyday life I’ve gained,” Sarah says. “Having Bible class everyday makes a huge difference of being surrounded by other Christians. It’s a good way of growing up in my faith.”
“I know I’m going to be a better businesswoman after I’m done at Hesston than I would have been otherwise.”