Paterson Resident Ted Reinhardt is Valedictorian

Students instructor talking to each other

Spotlight on our Graduates

Theodore John Reinhardt, III

Associate in Science Degree in Liberal Arts/Science 
Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) 
All-State PTK Team 
Robert A. Shea Memorial Award 
William P. Hannah Memorial Scholarship  
PTK Transfer Scholarship to Rutgers University

Paterson Resident and Military Veteran Named Valedictorian of PCCC Class of 2013

Ted Reinhardt says he was not a particularly distinguished student in elementary or high school. “I was lucky to be intelligent, but I guess I was bored,” explained the Paterson resident.   “I don’t like when things are too easy. I enjoy a tough challenge.”    Apparently, that worked for him at PCCC. 

On Thursday, Ted will receive his A.S. Degree in Liberal Arts/Science, graduating with highest honors and as valedictorian of the PCCC Class of 2013. “That was very nice to hear,” said the soft-spoken military veteran, who learned he was named valedictorian while on a Catskills camping trip with his dad.

Ted hinted that his valedictory speech will urge his classmates “not to let this success be our last one,”
and to maintain courage in future struggles for success. “It’s a very personal message,” he said. 

A member of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), honor society, Ted was also named to the All-State PTK New Jersey Team.  This spring he received the Paterson Rotary Club/William P. Hannah Memorial Scholarship and the Robert A. Shea Memorial Award.  He was also chosen to speak at last month’s Scholarship Gala, an annual event sponsored by the Passaic County Community College Foundation.

Next fall, Ted plans to enter Rutgers University with a $16,000 PTK Transfer Scholarship to pursue his bachelor’s degree in astrophysics.  He plans to one day earn his doctorate in that field, do research, and also teach.

“I’m really blessed by the way things turned out,” said Ted, who did not at first want to attend a community college.

A graduate of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, Ted apprenticed as an electrician for two years, then joined the Marines. “My overall attitude about life changed,” he said.  “I traveled to the Middle East and West Africa.  I saw a lot of the world, and I matured.”

When discharged from the Marines, Ted returned to West Africa to work with wildlife there. “I really like West Africa, and I love animals, especially reptiles,” he said.

Returning home to the U.S., he resumed working as an union electrician. “I didn’t find he work fulfilling, mentally or otherwise,” he said.  “I felt I should be doing more with my intelligence.”  When the economic recession set in and construction jobs were vanishing, he decided to return to school.

He enrolled at PCCC, mainly because of the affordable tuition.  “I didn’t really want to go to a community college,” he said.  “I didn’t think you could get a real college education at one.”

Ted’s experience at PCCC changed his perspective.  “When I started taking classes and seeing how good the professors are, I realized the education is equal to what I could get at most of the four-year colleges.”

Impressed by the small class sizes and one-on-one relationships  PCCC students have with their professors, Ted remarked,  “One of my friends in another college was in a calculus class with 300 other students and hardly saw the professor outside the lecture hall.”

Ted considers science professors  Fred Safarowick , Marcin Baranowski , and Brian Holton his “guiding lights. “ He also holds political science professor Martin Bookbinder in high regard. 

Anticipating his future role as a teacher, Ted served as a mentor to area high school students who were selected to participate in the robotics competition sponsored by the College’s  STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program. 

An adventurer with a taste for both cerebral and physical challenge, Ted’s love for physics and curiosity about the  “inner workings of the universe”  are balanced by his personal relationship to nature.

He enjoys hunting and fishing and has a favorite spot in the Catskills, “Up there on the mountain, it’s just me and the wilderness,” he said.    Yet he also values the importance of relationships in learning.

“There’s a personal vibe at PCCC,” said Ted.  “Every professor I had knew my name and took an interest in my work.”

“Coming here has been a huge springboard toward my future goals, and I would recommend PCCC to anyone. You’ll get a great education and save money, too.”