Christine Rich, '02
“My communications degree gave me the ability to think critically and look at issues from multiple perspectives. It also instilled in me a natural curiosity and those are all skills needed to write, publish, and market a book."
Christine Rich | Communication Studies | Class of 2002
Kent State University alumna Christine Rich, ’02, credits her Communication Studies degree for helping her move up the corporate ladder. Most recently, her degree has also helped her tell her personal story of living with a chronic illness.
“My communications degree gave me the ability to think critically and look at issues from multiple perspectives. It also instilled in me a natural curiosity and those are all skills needed to write, publish, and market a book,” Rich said.
After graduating from Kent State in 2002, Rich began her career as the Development Director at the Alzheimer’s Association. She held positions as Director of Marketing at American Greetings and now, Marketing Director, DIY at Sherwin-Williams. In 2021, she published her autobiography “Chronic,” in which she details her diagnoses with Crohn’s disease and tells a story that many people can relate to regardless of their health status.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Patients often experience symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss and rectal bleeding, according to the Cleveland Clinic Health Library.
“The year after I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I was a freshman at Kent State. I decided to write this book because I spent many years trying to hide from and deny the fear, anger, and sadness I felt because of my illness,” Rich said. “Through raw and personal stories and insights, I candidly share my journey of living with and eventually learning to befriend my less-than-glamorous, oftentimes invisible, chronic illness.”
In “Chronic,” Rich discusses her diagnosis; it not only impacted her physically, but also mentally and throughout her studies. Her Communication Studies coursework inspired her to publish her book and help start open conversations about living with chronic illnesses.
“I hid my physical, mental, and emotional pain because I felt ashamed. Which in turn, only made my symptoms and overall anxiety worse. I wish I would have known that it was okay and completely normal to feel grief, fear, and anger about my situation,” Rich said. “Overall, we need to have more open conversations about the intersection of chronic illness and mental and emotional health so that patients feel validated and empowered to advocate for their care and needs.”
What Rich learned in Communication Studies helped her become an advocate for people and develop strong leadership skills for her future job positions. Her connections with others were key to her moving up the corporate ladder.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about connection with the self and others. And without strong communication skills it can be hard to make those genuine, authentic connections,” Rich said.