As a former student and leader at Hiram College, then called the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, 20th U.S. President James A. Garfield was a major part of the College’s past – and now his great-great-great grandson is part of the College’s future.
Kevin Klanac seemed to be like every other student who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The Ohio State University. He later decided to pursue accounting so he enrolled at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) in order to be close to his home in North Ridgeville, Ohio. He then applied to Hiram College once he learned that, through the Hiram Complete program, he could finish his bachelor’s degree in accounting, right on the LCCC campus.
When he first enrolled at Hiram, Klanac hadn’t really thought about the fact that Garfield, his great-great-great grandfather, attended and eventually led the College.
“I didn’t make the connection until I saw an email from Hiram about Garfield’s birthday,” he says. “When I remembered, it was kind of a cool moment … like maybe this is where I’m supposed to be.”
Klanac is related to President Garfield on his mother’s side and recalls going to a Garfield family reunion at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio when he was younger.
Although classmates often have mixed reactions when they find out he is related to the historical figure, Klanac has a different perspective on the former president than most people.
“Because I’m related to him, it helps me remember that he wasn’t just the president,” he explains. “He was a real person who experienced life like we do.”
Although he recently joined LCCC’s Student Senate, Klanac says that he will not likely follow in Garfield’s footsteps in politics.
“I’m a shy person by nature,” he admits. “I don’t really like being the center of attention or having people look to me. I like helping people, but I’m more reserved.”
Although politics may not play a role, Klanac’s future looks bright. He is preparing to start an accounting internship with Comsat Architects in Rocky River, Ohio and after he earns a bachelor’s degree, he plans to become a certified public accountant.
As he completes his degree, he can take pride in knowing he is now part of his family’s Hiram legacy.
“It’s inspiring to know that I’m going to the same school that my great-great-great grandfather went to and led.”