Why this university student is offering a scholarship to someone who will study the trades

Daniel Rust is a fourth-year student at the University of Waterloo who also owns and operates Capstone Painting. He's offering a $1,000 scholarship to a high school student who is going to school for a trade this fall. (Joe Pavia/CBC - image credit)

Daniel Rust isn't finished his university education, but after starting a successful painting business, he says he's ready to help another student as they enter school.

Rust is a fourth-year architectural engineering student at the University of Waterloo and he also owns and operates Capstone Painting. He started the business as a way to pay for school.

Now, the 22-year-old is putting up $1,000 for a scholarship to a student who plans to enter the trades.

Rust says he remembers winning scholarships when he graduated from high school in Petrolia, Ont.

"I remember how much these awards helped out," he said in an interview on CBC K-W's The Morning Edition with host Craig Norris.

Another reason he wants to offer the scholarship is because of the worker shortage in the trades.

"There's quite a shortage in the skilled trades labour and that shortage is only getting worse these days with a lot of the older folks retiring and then not enough young people coming in to replace them," he said.

'A really inspiring kid'

When the Grand Valley Construction Association heard what Rust was doing, they wanted to help and agreed to match the scholarship, now making it $2,000.

Jeff MacIntyre, the association's president, called Rust "a really inspiring kid."

MacIntyre says having someone like Rust promoting the trades in this way is also a big boon for the industry.

"We talk about it as being trades at the first career choice, not a default career — the opportunity to have a great living, earn some significant money, build things," he said.

"Amplifying trades of the first choice as a career is important. Beyond that, we are in such a deficit as it relates to talent that we need more people like Daniel giving others a route into the career."

MacIntyre says the association's philosophy is to build community, not just physically with structures, but also in other ways. That includes helping with this scholarship as the association marks 50 years.

"Why this thing with Daniel fit so well is, we're talking about that for the past 50 years, we've built community. And for the next 50 years, what are we going to do to build better communities?" he said.

"Doing that, giving back to charity, giving back to those that need our assistance and helping those people get into the trades is definitely aligned."

'No better time to start than now'

Young people can apply to the scholarship through Rust's website for Capstone Painting and clicking the tab at the top for the scholarship application. The scholarship recipient will be notified by Aug. 31.

Rust says starting his own business in university was a challenge and it's meant he's missed out on parties and social events to finish painting jobs or do the books. He said he plans to keep going with his painting business after graduation.

"I won't lie, it's a lot of work and it does take a lot of dedication," he said. "It's really about keeping my eye on the long term like I do really, you know, I'm happy to put in this work up front because I am focused on that long term."

Even though he's still in school, Rust said he's happy he's able to offer a scholarship to someone else.

"As soon as this opportunity presented itself, it was something I wanted to do. And, you know, I wasn't expecting necessarily to have this ready to go in two years, but here I am," he said

"I thought, there's no better time to start than now. And then hopefully in future years, just keep doing the same thing but bigger and better."

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