Life and Death Vision: Kent State Student Challenges Opioid Addiction Head on in Original Play

PR Student Premieres Original Play About Opioid Epidemic at Akron Civic Theatre

Kent State student and Trumbull County native Emelia Sherin, ’20, is calling attention to Ohio’s opioid epidemic in a new way.

The public relations major – formerly a performer for Disney Cruise Line – combined her talents in the performing arts, writing and advocacy, to write the play “(In)Dependent: The Heroin Project.”

“(In)Dependent” was produced by the Akron Civic Theatre as part of the Millennial Theatre Project, and was performed Aug. 4 and 5, 2017

Sherin watches rehearsal from the audience.
Sherin watches rehearsal from the audience.

“I started writing the play because the media was bothering me so much; it was eating at me,” Sherin said. “It was so much to a point that I felt like I had to do something about it.”

The play tells the story about two people whose lives intersect as they struggle to overcome heroin addictions. Though the play explores heavy issues, Sherin also established light-hearted and educational moments throughout. At one point in the play, the characters attend a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, and later, the audience has an opportunity to directly engage with the characters.

By hosting the open discussion portion of the play, Sherin said she wants people to better understand the reality of heroin in Northeast Ohio and subsequently be moved to action. The Columbus Dispatch reported that at least 4,149 Ohioans died from unintentional drug overdoses in 2016.

“I want people to understand how they can help,” Sherin said.

Sherin said her public relations education has played a vital role in the development and production of this show, giving her an outlet to combine strategic thinking and advocacy.

“Kent State University has empowered and influenced me to be the best student, worker and human being I can possibly be,” Sherin said. “The history (Kent State) holds in activism has pushed me to reach out to society in a myriad of ways. … I have always wanted to give a voice to those who are unable to physically, emotionally or mentally voice their passions or stances.”

Kent State Trumbull has nominated Sherin to receive a "Valley of Dreams" leadership award, a program sponsored by the Mahoning Valley Scrappers minor league baseball team.  Sherin was honored before the team's July 31 game, where her recognition was announced to the crowd.

Media Coverage

Heroin Project: Howland grad produces play on her hometown’s epidemic - WKBN Youngstown

Millennials shedding new light on heroin addiction - West Side Leader

POSTED: Monday, July 31, 2017 08:58 AM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 10:38 PM
Haley Keding, '17