Making Dreams a Reality: Rustin Hara’s Story
For Rustin Hara, pursuing a career in the fast-growing and financially rewarding petrochemical field was a big motivator for him when considering his future. When it came to deciding the best path to get him there, finances were an important factor influencing his decision.
A 2020 Texas City High School graduate, Rustin is one of 148 College of the Mainland students embarking on a tuition-free higher education journey through the Opening Doors Promise Scholarship. The scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition and fees for eligible local high school graduates pursuing full-time studies, allows participating students to earn an associate degree or complete a workforce training certificate program at COM.
Rustin, who is now studying Process Technology (PTECH) at COM, says he learned about Promise while in high school and through his studies in the Collegiate High School program. “I was blessed with getting a discounted price,” he explains. “It helped go along with the cycle of being blessed to have this opportunity.”
As the petrochemical industry continually evolves to keep pace with technology, Rustin says, “A lot of the guys I talk to in this field started out without a degree, but now you need one for just about every position.”
Having a foundation with the Promise program will give him the edge he needs to quickly progress. He plans to use the scholarship to jump start his career, where he can eventually obtain a good job in the oil and gas industry, an economically thriving industry along the Gulf Coast.
Like Rustin, his mother, Meschel Hara, was excited at the idea of her son having the opportunity to pursue higher education with no tuition or fees. Between the Promise Scholarship and COM’s high-performing PTECH program, she knew that College of the Mainland was the perfect fit for her family.
“We’re just very thankful for this opportunity for Rustin, and it’s a blessing that we don’t have to pay this back,” she said. “It was close. It was paid for. And it fit the need that he was interested in. He was interested in pursuing process technology, so this just worked out perfectly.”
Since launching the program in March 2020, Promise Scholars have received almost $260,000 in funding to date with donations from foundations, municipalities, private donors and other community partners. The program will serve as a critical conduit to better-paying careers, long-term economic growth and a fulfilling lifestyle for the COM community.
“To support students in reaching their goals, College of the Mainland is continually looking to identify new ways to make the journey toward higher education affordable and accessible, and the Opening Doors Promise Scholarship fulfills that critical need,” said COM President Dr. Warren Nichols. “As this program continues to grow, I am confident that this opportunity will greatly enrich the growth and prosperity of our community now and in the years to come.”
Rustin wants to encourage fellow students to take advantage of this life-changing opportunity. “I’d say to anyone, go ahead and apply for it,” he said. “It’s money that’s available if you need it.”