'I found myself at Kent State Stark' - Ashley Spellman

Ashley Spellman is one of 139 in the 2018 Fall graduating class at Kent State Stark.

Ashley Spellman is no stranger to the kitchen. For seven months, she worked daily rolling out dough to make pies. She learned how to cook them just right – with a bubbly filling and a golden-brown crust.

She enjoyed her job, but she also knew her future held more than transforming apples into a perfectly baked pastry. She attended college once, shortly after graduating from Waterloo High School. She dropped out within two weeks. The university was too big, and “just too much” for this once self-described shy teen. 

She took a year off school. She baked pies. Two weeks before fall semester 2015, her mother, a schoolteacher in her hometown of Randolph, urged her daughter to apply to Kent State University at Stark.

“I had no clue what I wanted to do, and I wasn’t even sure if college was for me,” Spellman said. “I used to be very quiet and reserved. I guess you can say I found myself at Kent State Stark.”

Spellman joined Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and helped co-found Flash’s Food Pantry. She also was a member of the campus’ first Homecoming Court this fall.

“When I began taking courses at Kent State Stark, I learned this is much more than a college,” she said. “You are joining a community. And, that, is what makes it so special.” 

Spellman is one of nearly 140 students in this year’s fall class who completed at least 51 percent of their coursework at Kent State Stark. 


Once afraid to speak in front of a crowd, this 23-year-old has overcome her fears – earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. She credits Paul Sommer, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication studies, with fostering her interest in the field. 

“He was one of my first communication professors, and I knew speaking in front of others was a weakness of mine,” Spellman said. “But, I learned that communication is so much more than public speaking.” 

She said the campus’ dedicated faculty and staff have “really helped me blossom into who I am.”

Ashley Brightbill, manager of the Office of Student Involvement, met Spellman as a freshman. Brightbill has witnessed Spellman’s growth over the past three years, as she has pursued leadership roles in student government and represented the campus as a member of the Homecoming Court.

“It has been a privilege to watch her grow and mature into the amazing young woman she is today,” Brightbill said. “I have no doubt she will continue to make this world a better place. Ashley (Spellman) has served this campus so well, and we are grateful for her contributions.” 

As treasurer of USG, Spellman said her proudest accomplishment is witnessing the success of the on-campus food pantry.

“It is great to see how we help students struggling with food insecurity and how we partner with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank,” she said. “Of course, the goal is no visits, but I think it is great to see we are meeting a need and really making a difference.”


Now, the Portage County resident, once unsure college was for her, graduates Dec. 16 after finishing all of her coursework in three years’ time. 

“My parents were my No. 1 support system through it all,” Spellman said. “Before I found my fit at Kent State Stark, they were still excited for me when all I was bringing home was pies. They always knew I would go back to college when the time was right.”

And, as every good baker knows, the key to getting it just right comes down to precisely measured ingredients and a dash of perfect timing.

POSTED: Friday, December 14, 2018 - 11:32am
UPDATED: Friday, December 14, 2018 - 4:09pm
Melissa Griffy Seeton