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Persistence pays off

Jesse Ruland, '15

He’s heard recent arguments to the contrary, but Jesse Ruland thinks earning a college degree is more important than ever. “Completing a degree shows a company you’re willing to stick with something to get it done,” he said.

That’s called persistence and Ruland knows all about it. He describes his CMU education as “16 years with lots of experiences in between.” Now a manager for Kinder Morgan, one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America, Ruland describes his path as “not the usual.”

Arriving at CMU from Olathe, Colorado, on a football scholarship in 2000, Ruland also played basketball while studying business management. Following a string of injuries, surgeries and timeouts for recovery, his student-athlete days were over in 2004. Only a few credits short of graduating, Ruland decided his student days were over too.

After stints as a bartender and fishing guide, he found the energy industry joining Kinder Morgan in 2006. “It was the industry to get into at the time,” he said. By 2014, he had worked his way up from technician to supervisor and was about to become a dad when he decided, “this wasn’t my last stop” and returned to CMU and his unfinished degree.

He attended evening classes while working full time. “My grades improved about 6,000 percent! I had experience to add to the class.” In 2015, he completed his Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency in Landman/Energy Management. His promotion to Kinder Morgan manager was not far behind. Neither was his and wife Nichelle’s second child.

Now operations manager of technical services for Kinder Morgan, Ruland and his 35 employees in seven states are responsible for things like emissions testing, the computerized operation of compressor stations and protecting the company’s natural gas pipelines from corrosion.

Ruland credits all experiences — both positive and negative — in sports, the classroom and on every job with “shaping the kind of person, supervisor, boss I want to be. When I played sports, I was constructively criticized daily and it made me want to do better. That business concept of ‘continuous improvement’ really just means that no matter what you’re doing, you can do it better.”



Written by Deborah Dawes