Finally James Reinart Is a Member of the Club: After 21 Years He’s a Golden Flash

The last time James Reinart attended classes at Kent State University, George W. Bush was the president, “Friends” was the No. 1 show in America and a gallon of gas cost $1.46.

A lot has changed since 2001 but not Reinart’s goal of finishing what he started.

“It had always been on my mind that I only had 10 hours left,” Reinart said.

Two decades after Reinart stopped taking classes to enter the workforce, the Chagrin Falls resident will be crossing the stage at Kent State’s spring commencement ceremonies on May 14, 2022, to finally become a Golden Flash.

Reinart, 45, general manager at Ganley Chevrolet of Aurora, will be earning a Bachelor of Integrative Studies Degree (BIS), a non-major degree that is a multidisciplinary and individualized program that allows students to focus on career and professional goals. Previously, Reinart’s major had been computer information systems.

“Sales is about building relationships with people,” Reinart said. “There is no better relationship than to be part of something bigger than yourself like being an (alumnus) at Kent State.” 

Reinart’s dealership is a “proud community partner” with Kent State Athletics, he said. Shortly after COVID-19 hit, Reinhart was in a sponsorship meeting when the conversation shifted to an opportunity to complete his degree.

“When I was meeting with Kent State about the sponsorship, they had asked where I went to school, and I told them Kent and that I had 10 hours left,” Reinart said. “They gave me a contact person's number, and I called and they said ‘we would love to have you back.’ They created a path that wasn’t crazy and provided scholarship money to help me reach my goal. I thought this was the perfect time to do it.”

Reinart is a 1995 graduate of Chagrin Falls High school. He entered college that fall at Bowling Green State University, where he rushed Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He and his dad agreed the focus wasn’t where it needed to be, so he took a year off and moved to Georgia, where he joined a friend working in landscaping for a year.

In August 1997, Reinart moved back to Ohio and enrolled at Kent State, where he connected with his SAE brothers. In 2001 during his senior year at Kent State, Reinart's SAE brother Chad Reynolds helped him get a computer information systems internship at Rick Case Honda that turned into a full-time job at the end of the summer. That’s when Reinart left school and ended up in sales, moving 28 cars a month for the next two years.

College was an experience that gave him the confidence and experiences to make connections and become a success at his first job. From there, Reinart moved up the ladder to jobs with increasing responsibility.

“My family saw the success and happiness that I was having in my career,” Reinart said. “They are of the mindset that college gets you to the next level. In my situation, it built my confidence up. They were a little disappointed, but overall it was about getting to the next level.”

Reinart’s first class when he returned to Kent State, Music as a World Phenomenon, was a challenge. He had set aside time on Sunday nights to study, but in the third week it got so difficult, he had to readjust his study schedule. On his days off, he started going to the library and put four more hours in on those days. Since then, he’s gotten all A’s in his classes. He is particularly excited about using the skills he learned in a management course to “better manage people and become a better version of myself.”

Reinart said returning to school has changed his perspective and taught him how to study and learn again. The journey, he said, is not just about the degree, but the people you meet.

“The biggest thing for me are the connections of being a Kent State (alumnus) and what that means,” Reinart said. “My kids (Sunny, 12, and Oscar, 10) also now know anything is possible and you can accomplish anything at any age if you put the effort in. Now, I’m in the club. Now I’m a Golden Flash.”

For information about the University Degree Completion program at Kent State, go to www.kent.edu/university-advising/degree-completion.

POSTED: Thursday, May 12, 2022 - 1:14pm
UPDATED: Friday, May 13, 2022 - 3:26pm
WRITTEN BY:
April McClellan-Copeland