Kayla Marker, ’21, MPH ’22, Golden Flash Award Recipient 2020

“It’s important to understand your opinions, stick to your morals and stay true to yourself. Find something you truly believe in and advocate for that.” 

From the moment Kayla Marker stepped foot on Kent State’s campus, it felt like home and she knew Kent State was the college she would attend to learn and grow. 

“I came to tour and I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I felt safe, I felt like there was a lot to do in Kent and downtown Kent, it was very inclusive and I thought I could really succeed there,” Kayla said.  

Not only was she confident in her college choice but the choice of her major came easy to her. Kayla majored in criminology and justice studies. Also, interested in psychology, Kayla picked up another major and minor in forensic anthropology. Kayla is currently pursuing her master’s in public health. 

“Criminal justice has always been very intriguing to me and I always wanted to make some type of reform. Psychology goes hand in hand with that. I have always been interested in the mind and how it works. I thought that could really help me advance my career.” 

Knowing what she wanted to do as a freshman, Kayla made the most of her college career. She embodies the motto “Flashes Take Care of Flashes” and is committed to helping others through her participation in many organizations. 

She is a Kent State of Wellness Student Ambassador, leader of the Student Mental Health Coalition and undergraduate research assistant in the Center for Public Policy and Health. In past years, she served as an auxiliary service officer at the Kent State Police Department, programming director for the Psychology Peer Mentor Program and a Townhall 2 Crime Victim Advocate.

She further represents Kent State's pride and tradition through her leadership and involvement in Kent State’s Active Minds Chapter. Kayla serves as the president and is responsible for bringing Active Minds to Kent State, which is an organization that brings awareness to mental health. 

Kayla was empowered to start a chapter at Kent State because of her own childhood mental health struggles. One of Kayla’s friends and nominators explained how she is impacting other students. 

“When people like Kayla are able to be honest and open about their mental health challenges and wins, stigma about mental health and stigma about seeking help for mental health is decreased. Her leadership and vulnerability is helping other Kent State students.”

Kayla says some of her favorite memories at Kent State include Blast Off and the excitement of retuning to school in the fall, being accepted into the grad program and her involvement with Active Minds. 

Upon graduation with her bachelor’s, Kayla hopes to work for Child Protective Services and once she graduates with her master’s degree in public health she hopes to start a non-profit to help with mental health or go into mental health legislation. 

Kayla said she is so humbled to receive the Golden Flash Award and is grateful for everyone in her life who helped her succeed. 

“I'd just like to thank my friends and family, my significant other, Dakota, my cousin Deb for helping guide me through college life, Dr. Kenne and Dr. Laurene for teaching me and giving me the opportunity to learn about public health, the individuals who nominated me for the Golden Flash Award and my advisor, Karl Macura, for assisting me during my time at Kent State.”