Student Spotlight on Abby Clarke featuring Professor Bonnie Shaker, Ph.D.
If you don’t know Abby Clarke yet, it’s just a matter of time!
Abby is a poster child for Kent State University Geauga, in living color. You’ll find Abby at the front desk, leading campus tours or supporting admissions by posting on social media and speaking in auditoriums packed with high school students. At every turn, Abby is extolling the multiple benefits of Kent State University’s Geauga campus.
“I love Kent State Geauga!” Abby enthuses. “I will be sad when I have to leave in a year to take classes at the Kent campus. The professors here recognize I’m capable of more, so they push me. They are tough but supportive as they expect me to meet higher expectations.”
This enthusiasm came as a surprise to Abby herself, who claims she was against the idea of going to college just four minutes from home. Although she had lived in Atlanta for seven years during her upbringing, she spent her high school years at Berkshire and Auburn Career Center. “When I came back to little Burton, I was afraid I’d know everybody and that it would feel too small for me at Kent State Geauga,” Abby recalls.
Now Abby realizes the aspect she feared most is actually Kent State Geauga’s greatest asset. “This small atmosphere provides a good transition experience from high school to college. The professors are truly amazing and knowledgeable, yet approachable.”
One professor, in particular, has inspired Abby to dig deeper and reach higher. At the mention of Dr. Bonnie Shaker, Assistant Professor of English, Abby exclaims, “If I could be that woman! She’s just so powerful and intimidating due to her store of knowledge and expertise; and yet she is smiling and friendly, willing to help in every possible way. It seems like every single thing that she says can turn any assumption or situation around. She’s just a superwoman.” Dr. Shaker teaches, researches, writes and advises how new media, composition and literary studies intertwine.
On-campus coworkers have also been a huge source of support for Abby. In particular, admissions counselor Mary Lynn Delfino and work supervisor Cindy Mako-Robinson have smoothed Abby’s transition during her first year of college. Delfino was instrumental in getting Abby accepted into Kent State Geauga and as her academic advisor, Mako-Robinson has “encouraged me to go above and beyond as a student.”
When it comes to the student body, Abby says, “While I do know a lot of people here, I also have met so many nontraditional students who intrigue me. There are 2,100 students between our two locations in Burton and Twinsburg [Regional Academic Center], so that represents a lot of stories I still want to get to know.”
Not too surprisingly, Abby is pursuing a degree in communications. She is a freshman, but after studying multimedia technology at vocational school, she is already well versed in graphic design, photography, and videography. Abby is also an entrepreneur, offering portrait photography for graduations and weddings when she has time to spare.
While a career in marketing seemed like the most natural track for Abby to take, she is seriously considering a future as a high school teacher or college professor. With Dr. Shaker as her inspiration, Abby says, “Education is so important and such a safe space for planning a better future and moving forward in life. I want to be in that mix, teaching communications.”