Photo of Tremane Smith in the new COM Steam Building
College of the Mainland Collegiate High School graduate Tremane Smith received the Gates Scholarship and will attend Baylor University this fall to study biochemistry.

As the saying goes, “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and those words ring very true for Collegiate High School (CHS) Class of 2021 graduate Tremane Smith. Already a high-achieving Dickinson High School student, Tremane was recently selected as a 2021 Gates Scholarship recipient.

A highly selective national award, each year the Gates Scholarship (TGS) funds the full cost of college attendance not already covered by other financial aid and is awarded to 300 outstanding minority, high school seniors, with the intent of helping them realize their maximum potential.

With the scholarship, Tremane will attend Baylor University in the fall to major in biochemistry and then go on to pursue medical school to become an anesthesiologist. And while he is excited about starting this new chapter in his life, he is grateful to College of the Mainland (COM) for getting him there.

“Since I knew I wanted to go into medicine, and that I was going to have to do 12 years or more of schooling, it just made sense for me to get the basics out of the way early,” Tremane explained.

As a CHS graduate, Tremane already has an edge on his higher education journey. The Collegiate High School program allows high school students to earn an associate degree at a discounted cost while simultaneously completing a high school diploma. Through the program, Tremane welcomed the chance to jump start his higher education journey.

“I knew I wanted to do Collegiate High School because I knew I wanted to go into medicine and get those two years out of the way,” Tremane explained. “So now I graduated from Dickinson and finished my associate degree.”

Dozens of students take part in the CHS program at College of the Mainland each semester. What sets Tremane’s story apart is his unmatched drive to reach what some might consider insurmountable goals by leaving no stone unturned on his quest for success. Through his determination and with the support of his family, church community, teachers, counselors, and COM family, his success was unstoppable.

“When I first came in 2019, it was a little intimidating to come into college as a [high school] junior,” Tremane said. “And then it really got difficult in the beginning of 2020 whenever we went virtual, but all my teachers were really helpful. They’ve been helpful, but they’ve also been nurturing and available and easy to talk to.”

At the helm of his COM support system was TRIO Academic Advisor Lena Jones. She encouraged Tremane and other students to apply for the Gates Scholarship and helped him along the way. Her unwavering commitment to Tremane’s success left a profound impact on him during his time at the college.

“Ms. Jones gave me her contact information, and I was able to call her weekly or biweekly to update her on my progress on SAT practice, applying for scholarships, and she was always just so encouraging.”

While at COM, he participated in Upward Bound where he utilized SAT tutorials, FAFSA financial aid assistance, help with scholarship applications, college research and career exploration.

“I was about to be a [high school] senior,” Tremane explained. “I was about to take the SAT. I needed to apply for scholarships, and I didn’t know anybody who had already done that. So I was left to figure it out on my own until I got into the Upward Bound program.”

But the support did not stop there. Upon arriving at COM, he took advantage of many of the college’s other student support services including the library and tutoring center.

“I took advantage of the tutoring center,” Tremane said. “Every time I had a paper, I had them look it over, which was really nice. And it’s just been good to get a head start.”

When asked what advice he would offer fellow students, his response was simple. “Take advantage of the things that you have while you can that are right here in your community.”

Those are solid words of advice from a student who is proof positive that "it takes a village" is no cliché but rather sound wisdom when the village is COM.