Kent State Student Named Winner of Ryan Seacrest Cover Contest

Kent State Student Named Winner of Ryan Seacrest Cover Contest

Fans crowned Kent State University student Marina Strah the winner of the Ryan Seacrest Cover Contest for her YouTube cover of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off."

"I don't even know how to express how crazy this feels," Strah, a communication studies major, posted to her Instagram account. "This is unbelievable. Thank you so much." talent scouts originally selected eight artists from YouTube they thought best covered Swift's "Shake It Off." Next, there were weeklong rounds of voting for each cover. Strah, the winner of Ohio's Got Talent, quickly moved to the top three.

Marina Strah"Two days after Ohio's Got Talent, I come home from class to unwind and check my email, and I see an email from Ryan Seacrest. My first thought was that it was spam," Strah said. "But I open it, and it said I was selected by the Ryan Seacrest production team for the Ryan Seacrest cover contest for my cover of Taylor Swift's 'Shake it Off.'"

Strah admitted she did not expect to make it very far in the competition - let alone win - because she had the smallest YouTube following of all three finalists in the competition. Voters on didn't seem to care, though.

"It's been crazy. I don't think I've fully grasped it yet, especially when I think about how fast everything has happened. First, I unexpectedly win Ohio's Got Talent, my first ever competition, then I am entered into a contest with Ryan Seacrest," Strah said. "Never in a million years did I think I would ever be associated with this person, let alone have my face all over his website. Now, I'm getting ready to start recording my first ever album. Just to know that I'm one step closer to actually achieving my dream feels really good."

While Strah began playing the drums at age 12, she didn't learn to play the guitar or start singing until three years ago during her freshman year of college.

"I just picked up playing the guitar, and singing went along with it," Strah said. "My entire family is so supportive, and they always tell me, 'If you're going to go for it, go for it. Don't hold back.'"

Strah said she plans to use both her talent and the skills she's learning from faculty members in the School of Communication Studies to turn her music ambitions into a career after college. She's also minoring in public relations in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

"Everything I'm learning in my communication studies and public relations courses I'm using on a daily basis," Strah said. "It's taught me how to communicate and interact with an audience. You're always on your toes in communication studies, which I love because it's a real-life experience. The skills I've been learning have directly translated into a music career, which is more than I could ever ask for."

Shannon French and Meghan Caprez