By Alison Wayner
Coming from the tiny town of Bascom in northwest Ohio, Carime Reinhart has made a big name for herself at Ohio University.
The graduating senior, who boasts a 3.9 grade point average, helped bring the university's cross country team from last- and near-last-place finishes in the Mid-American Conference to two consecutive MAC team championships (the first since 1997) during her junior and senior years. Last month, she capped off her collegiate running career with a first-place finish in the 10k at the MAC Track and Field Championships.
"I think I'll always remember when the team won our first MAC title in 2006," Reinhart says. "The weather was awful, and we were covered in mud. The winds were so strong that our team didn't hear the gun go off at the start, and we were behind everyone. But we still won, and I got the individual title, which was always one of my goals."
Reinhart's stellar performances helped Ohio University garner the prestigious 2006-7 Jacoby Trophy, awarded each year to the MAC school with the best overall women's athletics programs.
Coming from a small town (Bascom's population is about 300), it wasn't easy at first for Reinhart to adjust to a college campus of 20,000, and homesickness quickly set in. But once she started taking advantage of what the university had to offer, she found her niche.
"I didn't know what to expect when coming to college, so I was maybe a little too focused. Once I loosened up, everything was great," she says. "Now I feel so at home here, I'm sad that it's already over."
The Academic All-American, who will graduate Saturday with a degree in hearing, speech and language sciences, attributes her accomplishments to her faith. "I turned to my Catholic faith to get me through," she says, "whether it was by attending church each week at St. Paul's or by going to campus spiritual groups."
A busy student, Reinhart has participated in Campus Crusade for Christ, Athletes in Action, the Ohio University Undergraduate Research Club and the National Student Speech, Language and Hearing Association. And she's volunteered in the university's Child Language Lab and -- when home in Bascom -- with the Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center working with children ages 2 to 6 in a group speech therapy setting.
"I love working with kids and having the chance to see their language skills improve over time," she says.
Having a hand in perfecting things is a central theme for Reinhart. In fact, the opportunity to be on a cross country team with a commitment to rebuild was one thing that attracted her to Ohio University.
"When I first visited OU, I thought the campus was gorgeous, and I just loved the (cross country) team," Reinhart notes. "I wanted to be part of a team that was working hard to improve, and we did that!"
Coach Clay Calkins says watching Reinhart evolve into a leader in recent years has been a joy.
"Coming from a small town was an adjustment for Carime, but she was able to overcome the changes and transition into a leadership role through her determination," Calkins says. "She never settled for anything less that she was capable of. I think this is how she will live her life."
Chao-Yang Lee, an assistant professor of hearing, speech and language sciences, says students with good grades are not uncommon, but what impressed him about Reinhart was her "? combination of academic excellence, impeccable work ethic and a genuine commitment to her own education."
Lee once asked Reinhart how she handles the pressures and demands of being both a student and an athlete.
"She humbly told me that time management is the key," Lee recalls. "However, I think it has to be much more than time management skills. She must have a strong motivation to succeed, a passion for what she chooses to do and strong work ethic to make these things happen."
Reinhart will put those traits to work in the next stage of her education -- at the University of Akron, where she'll begin work this fall on a master's degree in speech-language pathology. She hopes to one day work as a school system speech-language pathologist and eventually pursue a doctorate.
"No matter what, I want to be a lifelong student -- always taking classes and always learning new things," she says.