James Reinart held his kids and wife in his arms with an uncontrollable smile. He finally accomplished a dream that was 21 years in the making.
The College of Arts and Sciences held its commencement ceremony May 14 at 10 a.m on Manchester Field.
The commencement started with a speech from Kent State University President Todd Diacon, who gave a speech about idioms. He referenced two Brazilian idioms translating to “born with your butt facing the moon” and “break off a tree branch.”
“Being born with your butt facing the moon means to be very lucky and fortunate — always with a smile,” Diacon said. “As Kent State graduates, you were all born with your butts facing the moon.”
Diacon said “break off a tree branch” meant to be creative and create answers to life’s problems. He challenged the graduates to be resourceful and use their education to be able to craft answers.
Chazzlyn Jackson, the 2021-2022 undergraduate student body president, gave a speech, where she discussed the mantra “Flashes help Flashes.” She talked about the graduates’ need to carry that idea on past graduation, by helping themselves and others and living in the moment.
Then, close to 900 students had the opportunity to walk across the stage. Among them was James Reinart.
He attended college 21 years ago, and when he was only 10 credit hours away from graduating, he dropped out after gaining an interest in sales.
When he dropped out, Reinart went into car sales. During his years away from college, he became a salesman and the general manager of Ganley Chevrolet of Aurora.
During COVID-19, he saw an opportunity while doing a sponsorship with Kent State to return and finish his degree. He decided to accept the opportunity in order to get a degree in integrative studies.
“I wanted to do this for myself to prove that I can, and to do it for my kids,” Reinart said. “I wanted to show them you can do anything you want at any time. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can do whatever you want to do.”
Another graduating student was Maureen Rynes, who received a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“I am glad to finally be at this part. It’s been a long journey that a lot of people have helped me through, like my dad and my brother,” Rynes said.
Another one of many students alongside Rynes and Reinart was Larissa Gaborick, who received a bachelor’s degree in biology.
“I am going to miss the experiences I have made here at Kent, but I’m excited to see what comes next,” Gaborick said. “I’ll take the positive experiences I have had here with me forever. Go Flashes.”
Ty Kohler is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]