Students First

March is National Nutrition Month. For this series of stories, Kent State Today interviewed people working in University Culinary Services about the many dining options available to students.

Khutso Ledwaba is a graduate student studying business analytics. He comes to Kent State from Pretoria, South Africa. When we spoke with him, he was a student manager in the Design Innovation Dining facility in the DI Hub, responsible for serving food and supervising different food stations.

Executive Chef Edward Shawn Hardin Sr. and a student cook at the Homezone station. 

Exploring food options

As a student, he has heard other students complaining about the food on campus. Ledwaba suspects that some of these people haven’t really explored all of the options. “I would say that they need to try it before they start talking,” he said. “Because the food here is pretty good. We eat here, as well, between our breaks, and we wouldn’t eat it if it wasn’t good. So, I feel they just need to come out and definitely give it more of a try.”

Ledwaba also talked about how the food he prepares is made from scratch. “Especially with the breakfast, we make omelets from scratch along with eggs and sausages,” he said. “At lunch, when you make Philly steaks, it’s all made from fresh beef, fresh mushrooms and fresh vegetables. We just bring in the bread.”

“We prepare the food to be the best and as fresh as you can get anywhere else.”

His favorites

As for his favorites, Ledwaba said his favorite thing to make is pancakes and his favorite things to eat are the omelets and the chicken tenders.

Special restrictions

For people who have dietary restrictions or may just be “picky” eaters, Ledwaba said “For them, we are a caterer. We cater to them with different stations. We have the vegan station, we have the gluten-friendly station, we have the Homezone and the grill, which are more for everybody. And then we have small stations like desserts.”

“We serve Indian food varieties like samosas as well as dishes from Latin American culture. We have a wide variety of cultures across campus.”

‘There is something for everybody over here.’

March is National Nutrition Month. For this series of stories, Kent State Today interviewed people working in University Culinary Services about the many dining options available to students.

Edward Shawn Hardin Sr. is the executive chef at Kent State’s Design Innovation Dining facility in the DI Hub. He grew up in Kent and remembers playing basketball on Kent State’s campus when he was younger. “I’ve been familiar with Kent State my whole life,” he said. “When I was growing up, I got the culture from the outside. But when I got older, I got to see what it was like on the inside. So, I have the best of both worlds when it comes to campus.”

That knowledge of Kent State’s culture, his own skill as a chef and his desire to bring people great dining experiences have helped him maintain high standards of quality and develop creative cuisine in the kitchens of Kent State.

Building a foundation of quality

Hardin said that all the food served in university dining halls is made from scratch with recipes that the executive chefs on campus work together to create. “All the stuff you see over there (pointing to the serving stations) is made from produce that we bring in and then we break down to create a beautiful plate,” he said. “Like the mashed potatoes – that’s not from a bag. We peeled the potatoes, we steamed them, we mashed them. We added the milk, we added the salt, we added the pepper and the herbs. We add everything in there to get what you get right there."

And they have no microwaves. Hardin laughed, “Some of the employees here are a little upset about that because they like to bring stuff from home to eat and they have no way to heat it up. We try to encourage them to eat stuff here. That’s why we do it the way we do.”

International and specialty flavors

Hardin works hand-in-hand with chefs on campus to create international dishes. He’s worked with one of his chefs on recipes from India, to create authentic chicken masala, butter chicken, tikka masala and other dishes for students to enjoy.

Another chef who worked in DI Dining brought his own Southwestern recipes to the mix, and Hardin has added to them with his own creations.

Creative recipes and special considerations

Using his creativity in the kitchen, Hardin said that he can sometimes “trick” people into trying foods they wouldn’t normally consider. “I created a pineapple salsa that I combined with tofu,” he said. “When you add to the tofu, the black beans and the pineapple salsa, the combination is fantastic.”

Some of his favorite things to prepare are vegan dishes. “Because growing up, that wasn’t a thing,” he said. “When I grew up, it was mainly McDonald’s and Burger King.  Now we transition to the healthier options.” Hardin takes pride in making vegan recipes that taste as good as their non-vegan versions.

“Our entire senior management team eats in our own dining halls every day,” Hardin said. “So, we know when something’s ‘off,’ when it doesn’t taste right whatever it might be. And that’s the biggest thing I say to parents with picky eaters or students with food allergies: “Hey, I know people who have the same thing and do it safely every day – it’s possible to be done’.”

“Also, I have a student worker who doesn't eat red meat or pork,” he said. “So, when it’s time for him to go to lunch, he looks to me. So, I lead him to what I think would be best for him, considering his preferences.”

Chef Hardin with University Culinary Services cook George Lemons Jr. Lemons Jr., who has been with the university for more than 20 years, is a familiar face at Kent State. He makes it his goal to connect with the students he meets on campus. 

‘Eat your vegetables’

When asked what he might say to a student who is a picky eater, Hardin said, “Well, me being a parent myself, this is an easy one. I would say you can always get fries, but be sure to eat your vegetables, because there are plenty here. There are two vegetable options on each station. So, get ahead and get your fries, I’m okay with that. Get your burger. That’s okay. But make sure you eat your vegetables and please don’t tell me there aren’t any there. Because I know you have plenty of options.”

‘You always have something here’

Parents who have encountered resistance to vegetables may also have witnessed their students at home staring into their well-stocked refrigerators and observing, “There’s nothing to eat.” Hardin understands.

“There have been multiple occasions where I’ve approached a student when I see them looking like there’s nothing there they want,” he said. “So, I come to them, like ‘Is everything okay?’ and they say ‘Well, you don’t have this. There’s nothing here’.”

“When you come to me, a chef, and let me know if you want something different that you don’t see, I have no problem doing it. You always have something here, you just have to say it. Let us know what you want.”

Providing a great dining experience

“I love the atmosphere here and the interaction with the staff,” he said. “And seeing the smiles on the students’ faces and the satisfaction when they leave, knowing they’ve had a great, enjoyable experience in the dining hall.”

‘Because that’s what food’s about: the experience. And we make sure that we give them the best.’

March is National Nutrition Month. For this series of stories, Kent State Today interviewed people working in University Culinary Services about the many dining options available to students.

Sarah Korzan, MS, RD, LD, knows that for some first-year students, it may be their first time living away from home for long periods of time. As a registered and licensed dietitian and an assistant director of University Culinary Services, she wants to let students and their parents know that there are many nutritious, healthy and tasty dining options for students living on campus. “It’s just a matter of getting out there and finding what you like on campus and what you want to eat,” Korzan said.


Finding their favorites, she says, can also involve trying new things. “Students form dietary habits at home and continue expanding them through their college years,” said Korzan. “Our dining halls offer comfort food options and new, healthy items and global cuisines that students may not have seen or heard of before.” She advises parents to encourage their students to go beyond their usual “go-to” comfort food choices and explore these new-to-them options. “The all-you-care-to-eat dining facilities are the perfect environment for trying items, as they can ask for small portions, in case they find they do not like the new food they are trying.”

More feedback creates more options

“Probably some of the biggest myths we hear from students is that we don’t have enough options,” said Korzan. “I think we have worked very diligently to put out a really good menu mix.” Plus, she said that since University Culinary Services took over dining operations from a third-party vendor, they have been able to respond to student feedback more quickly. “The big thing last year is that students said that they wanted more fresh fruit options,” she said. “We put them in, and they are now available 24-7 at our all-you-care-to-eat facilities. They wanted two vegetables options at every station, because it seemed that they weren’t finding the veggies they liked. So, we added that.”

“We do enjoy hearing student feedback, and the only way that we can really get them what they want is if they tell us. We can change our menu daily if we need to, to help students find what they’re looking for.”


Many tasty choices

On any given day, the two all-you-care-to-eat dining halls on campus, at Eastway Center and Design Innovation Dining at the DI Hub, offer meals from different serving stations. These stations include a salad bar and a fruit bar, and there is a station that is primarily plant-forward, offering vegan options. There is one station called “The Home Zone” that offers “home cooking” like meatloaf, mac and cheese, and chicken parmesan. The DI Hub location also has a made-to-order breakfast station that serves omelets, pancakes and French toast. In the afternoon it changes to a rotating made-to-order menu. Other rotating options include a taco bar and a baked potato bar. “Students love baked potato bar day,” said Korzan.


Eastway Center features a rotating build-your-own station that can be a taco bar, a ramen bar or offer other options. There is also a “Chipotle-style” rice bowl station, with different kinds of rice, multiple proteins (including a plant-based option), and vegetable and fruits for toppings.

Both dining facilities offer classic grill options, like burgers, chicken and fries, plus pizza and a dessert station.

The gluten solution

There’s also a gluten solutions station that offers gluten-friendly food, made without any gluten-containing ingredients. Gluten friendly is different that gluten free. “I always explain to parents and students that ‘gluten friendly’ means that there is nothing with gluten on that entire station and it has its own equipment. Our staff members are well trained. I do all of the training for food safety and allergens myself,” said Korzan. “But the station does share a back-of-house facility, and gluten can technically hang in the air for up to 24 hours, which means we cannot call it certified ‘gluten free’.”

Late-night dining and beyond

If students are looking for a late-night bite, there’s Rosie’s Diner, in the Tri-Towers residence hall complex. It features homemade salads that students can assemble themselves, deli subs, pizza and more. “So, there’s that option, plus the more traditional ‘home cooking’ at the all-you-care-to-eat facilities. So, there’s always the best of both worlds. We have plenty of options, both within our facilities and across campus.”


Kent State University’s men’s basketball team goes by many names: Golden Flashes, Mid-American Conference champions, winners. 

But Ted McKown, senior associate director of admissions for transfer enrollment, would add “transfer students” to that list. 

Many of the players on this season’s winning team transferred to Kent State from other colleges, making them part of a group of about 1,200 students who, each year, find themselves at Kent State for a new stop on their educational journeys. 

McKown and his team do all they can to make sure their move is a seamless transition, and that Kent State becomes their final stop. 

McKown said students transfer to Kent State for various reasons, but most fit into three categories: academics, financial or geography.  

Geography comes into play often when a student decides to study farther from home, and then misses the familiar surroundings of home or does not like being away from family. “Often these students are one to three semesters into their programs,” he said. 

Finances also result in some students transferring to a different school. McKown said often students opt to study farther from home, but then their money runs out or their debt is growing, and they opt to return to Northeast Ohio where they can live at home and attend college more affordably. 

Finally, academics drive some students to transfer, when they begin a program of study at one university, then decide it is not what they expected so they switch universities to find a better fit. McKown said this is common for students who are deciding between Kent State and another school, and then end up switching back to Kent State in the end.  

“The second choice then becomes the first choice,” he said. 

Whatever the reason for the transfer, McKown and his team works to offset any problems, one of the biggest of which is transferring credits. 

He said Kent State tries to make sure that many, if not all, credits will transfer so that students aren’t losing the time they spent taking those courses or wasting the money they spent on them. 

“We really try to make the ease of transfer seamless with the way we transfer credits,” he said. 

The transfer process can be overwhelming for students. 

When Isabelle Roeder, 20, a sophomore from Santa Cruz, California, transferred to Kent State for the 2022 Fall Semester, it was her second time changing colleges in as many years.  

“Transferring is definitely confusing,” she said. But Kent State, she said, made the process easy. 

“There were a lot of resources,” Roeder said. “It was pretty seamless. I don’t really remember many hiccups.”  

Best of all, she was able to transfer all her credits from both previous colleges. 

When she graduated from Soquel High School in 2021, amid the pandemic, Roeder said she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study, but she knew that she wanted to live somewhere different than her hometown in northern California. 

“I wanted to try something new,” she said. Roeder enrolled in Manhattan College, a small private school in the Bronx, New York.  

“New York is very different from California, and I wanted to get out and see the world,” she said. It only took one semester for Roeder to discover that she did not enjoy living in a big city, and she returned home to California, enrolling at Cabrillo College, a community college in Aptos, California, to continue taking core classes while trying to determine where and what she wanted to study. 

At the time, her father was living in Kent, and when she visited him, she decided to tour the university. 

“When I was in town, they were doing freshman orientation,” Roeder said, “I saw the fashion school and I was like, `Oh my gosh.’ I was always into art, but I didn’t want to just major in art. I didn’t know what that career would look like. But when I saw all the hands-on learning and working in labs (at the fashion school) it was not just a traditional classroom setting, that’s what sold me.” 

Kent State, she said, even helped her fill out all the necessary forms to change her legal residency to her father’s home in Ohio so that she would qualify for in-state tuition. 

Today, Roeder is majoring in fashion design and hopes to add a minor in either business or fashion merchandising. She is also hoping to spend a semester at the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising’s New York City Fashion Studio – to give the big city another chance.  

While she is still trying to figure out her exact career path, Roeder said she is thinking about a future working in sustainable fashion or pursuing gender equity in clothing. “Something where I can make a positive impact on our world,” she said. 

Despite having attended two much smaller schools, Roeder said she has adjusted well to Kent State, although the Ohio winter has taken some getting used to. “I really like it,” she said, “Everyone has been super helpful, and everyone is super nice.” 

Her first day of class in August was a bit of an eye-opener when she was in a large lecture room with about 200 students. “We were sitting shoulder to shoulder, and it freaked me out at first, but now, I love that class because of how many people there are and how many people I have been able to get to know,” she said. “It has been awesome to meet people from all over.” 

McKown said his team understands that relationship building with transfer students is so important. They give particular attention to students who may be coming from two-year community colleges, even recruiting at that level so that students can prepare for their transfer as they are completing their first two years. That way, he said, students have a better understanding of what courses they will need to take at the community college level so that they are best prepared and so all their credits will transfer.   

“We look at those credits to see how they will satisfy their associate degree, but also apply to their bachelor’s degree at Kent State,” he said. 

Students transferring from two-year community colleges often experience “sticker shock” when they see that courses at a four-year university are costlier, he said. In that case, Kent State often can offer a Flash Transfer Northeast Ohio Scholarship to help offset some of that cost and make the switch affordable. 

Finally, McKown said, Kent State offers a wide range of online-only courses, to allow those out of state or even out of the country to transfer to Kent State, without having to leave their homes. 

“We offer many programs that are 100 percent online,” he said, “Anyone can transfer to Kent State and get that degree from the comfort of their own home.” 

Women represent nearly 60% of students in graduate or professional degree programs across America. However, they are still a minority in certain STEM fields like engineering and computer science. The Graduate College celebrated women’s history month by tackling this tough topic head-on.

On Tuesday, March 22, graduate students gathered in the University Library to discuss the struggles that students of different identities can often face in graduate school. “Who Runs the World: Experiences of Gender, Race, and Power in Graduate School” featured a panel discussion of female graduate students sharing their stories and lived experiences during their studies.

The panel opened a candid discussion of the struggles graduate students face from many of the intersecting identities students have between gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age and more.

Panelists for the discussion included Maren Greve, psychological sciences doctoral student; CV Garcia, a higher education administration doctoral candidate; and Gianna Jessup, a higher education administration master’s student.

Garcia discussed her experiences as an international student while also having worked for almost a decade before deciding to further her education again.

“A big motivation for me was that I want to change the face of what a faculty member or someone with a doctorate looks like, and it has to start with me,” Garcia said.

The conversation covered issues many women face in graduate school like being compared to their male peers or being told they are too sensitive or not assertive enough. 

Panelists also shared valuable advice for women who may be looking to further their education in graduate school. Their biggest piece of advice: Find a community. Whether you join a writing group, graduate student senate or other graduate student organization, community is important to surviving in graduate school.

Another theme the panel addressed was how women may present themselves and their research within a graduate program.

“Don’t downplay yourself or the work that you do. You deserve a spot at the table,” Greve said. “You deserve to be recognized for your work. Everyone is worth something and the work you do is worth something.”

The discussion closed with panelists sharing the importance of taking care of yourself while in graduate school, no matter your identity. 

“Something I have been thinking about recently is that as women, we often have an instinct to take care of other people, but, this is the only time in your life that you can only worry about you,” Jessup said. “So, right now I’m trying to work on myself, take care of myself, and take in every opportunity I can because this is a really important time in my life.”

Learn more about Kent State Graduate College.

Kent State's Intramural Sports Basketball League Championships took place this week at the Warren Student Recreation and Wellness Center. There were 23 men's teams, three women's teams, 11 co-rec teams and 20 fraternity teams.

In the championship games, The Step Dads outscored The Ballers 66-64 in the men's championship, Ur Mom defeated the Beefcakes 53-30 in the co-rec championship and Pi Kappa Alpha beat Sigma Alpha Epsilon 47-36 in the fraternity championship. 

The Intramural Sports Basketball Leagues played from Feb. 13 through March 22, with all games played in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Intramural sports support the university's wellness mission in providing members of the Kent State community with equitable recreational experiences through a culture of learning, growth and well-being in a supportive, welcoming environment.

Want to see one of YOUR photos in “IN A FLASH?” Submit your Kent State-related photos to and you may see them in a future Kent State Today post. Photos should be framed -horizontally- and include a brief description of what’s happening in the photo along with when and where it was taken.


Elements of Crawford Hall are now visible above the construction fence as the framework is built for the new home of the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship on the Kent Campus. Design elements of the building, including the Business Theater and classroom spaces, are beginning to take shape and are visible in the structure.

Want to see one of YOUR photos in “IN A FLASH?” Submit your Kent State-related photos to and you may see them in a future Kent State Today post. Photos should be framed -horizontally- and include a brief description of what’s happening in the photo along with when and where it was taken.

Bridget Tetzlaff is a senior and member of the Wickliffe High School bowling team in Wickliffe, Ohio. She is on the academic challenge team. She is a two-time national pageant winner. However, she also has cerebral palsy, congenital heart disease and anxiety.

Fox 8 recently reported on Tetzlaff’s journey and her dream of attending Kent State University as an engineering major this coming fall 2023. To attend college, she will require a service dog to accommodate her needs.

“Having that emotional support from a service dog and having mobility support for me to lean on it when I’m tired from walking would save me a lot of energy,” Tetzlaff told Fox 8 News.

Tetzlaff and her family have fundraised with Working Animals Giving Service For Kids (WAGS 4 Kids) to get a service dog. At this time, the fundraiser has reached its goal of $9,000.

Kent State campuses are no stranger to service animals. With 32 service dogs currently registered across all campuses and student organizations that train future service dogs, like Paws with a Cause, the Kent State community happily welcomes these animals.

Kent State’s Student Accessibility Services (SAS) office supports more than 1,500 students. SAS offers support for students needing accommodations whether those be in academics, transportation or housing.

SAS also hosts campus-wide programs around topics such as disability management, stress management and self advocacy. One of their newer sessions, “Accessibility Animals on Campus,” is offered twice a semester and will be presented again to the campus community in fall 2023. The course educates on the difference between service animals, service dogs and emotional support animals and how each type of animal provides support.

Kent State follows American Disability Association regulations for service dogs. Amanda Feaster, director of SAS, in the Division of Student Affairs, shared the two questions that determine if an animal is a service animal according to those regulations. One, is the dog required because of a disability? Two, what task is the animal trained to do?

“As long as that is congruent, we consider the animal a service dog, and the dog has almost complete access to everything on campus,” Feaster said. “Classrooms, housing and dining facilities. There are few exceptions to where service dogs aren’t allowed to go. In those cases, we work with the student to figure out alternative accommodations.” 

Feaster’s biggest piece of advice for students who may be bringing a service dog to a Kent State campus is to be confident in an answer when someone asks about your dog.

“The thing we hear most from our students is that people are fine with the dog, but they want to pet the dog, or they want to interact because it’s so cute. So, you’ll want to have an approach on how you want to handle that,” Feaster said. “There’s not a right or wrong way, it’s just how the person feels comfortable.”

SAS does not require students to register their service dogs, but it is encouraged. When a service dog is registered with Kent State, it allows SAS to provide extra support to the student.

“We encourage students to connect with our office as early as possible,” Feaster said. “Service dogs are welcome, but sometimes the person also has additional access needs. We like to get all of those things sorted out in advance.”

Find more information about Kent State’s Student Accessibility Services Office.

Learn more about animals on campus.


Want coffee? You’re in luck. At nearly every turn in Kent - and on campus - you can find a different coffee shop ranging from the national favorites to the local hot spots.

With so many places to choose from, the hard decision is deciding where to go and, more importantly, what to get.

Well, good news to all the coffee lovers out there. We visited seven coffee places in Kent and on the Kent Campus and discovered their most popular drink orders just for you.

Bent Tree - Oat Milk Latte

Starting strong with a local favorite, Bent Tree Coffee Roasters has been part of Kent for more than a decade. Barista Andros Sanders said the shop’s most popular drink is an Oat Milk Latte, iced or hot. While it was in season, the Cardamom Honey Latte gave the Classic Oat Milk Latte a run for its money. As the weather shifts to spring, the Cardamom Latte is going away and new seasonal flavors like the hot Honey Latte and Chocolate Pecan Latte are now available.

Cleveland Bagel Cafe - Iced Caramel Macchiato

The newest addition to Kent, Cleveland Bagel Cafe, made its debut last September and has quickly become a campus favorite. According to manager Chloe McIntyre, the Iced Caramel Macchiato is the most popular drink among Kent State students. If you’re looking for a quick treat, McIntyre said customers’ favorite snack is the Bacon Egg and Cheese on an everything bagel with a cheddar chive cheese spread.

E. Main St. Dunkin’ - Original Blend Iced Coffee or Signature Cold Foam Drinks

Just like America, Kent State students run on Dunkin’. Store manager Ginnie Brant said the store's most popular drink is an Original Blend Iced Coffee that customers customize to their liking with cream, sugar or additional flavors. She also said that when the company releases a new cold foam beverage it is always a hit. Their newest cold foam beverage is the signature crafted Caramel Cold Brew with chocolate cold foam.

Scribbles Coffee - Raspberry Cheesecake Shaken Espresso

We have another local favorite next: Scribbles Coffee. Owner Beth Ann Budzar told us that their shaken espressos are a big hit. Right now, their seasonal favorite is the Raspberry Cheesecake Shaken Espresso. If you’re visiting during the winter months, Budzar said the seasonal flavor is peppermint. During the fall time, you can enjoy your shaken espresso with pumpkin spice. In any season though, you can expect a delicious shaken espresso. Consider shaking up your order next time you visit.

East Main Street Starbucks - Caramel Macchiato

Starbucks is an all-time favorite hangout for students at Kent State. The manager told us that the Caramel Macchiato is a very popular order right now. The drink consists of freshly steamed milk with vanilla-flavored syrup marked with espresso and topped with a caramel drizzle for an oh-so-sweet finish.

Tree City Coffee & Pastry - Leprechaun’s Kiss and Nutty Irishman Cold Brew

Tree City has been a Kent favorite for years. Jacob Peterson, shift manager, told us their Leprechaun’s Kiss and Nutty Irishmen Cold Brews are the seasonal favorites right now. The Leprechaun’s Kiss is a rich chocolate cold brew with a minty accent. The Nutty Irishmen is a cold brew infused with hazelnut and pistachio flavors. No matter the season, Tree City has over 50 flavors for you to choose from.

University Library Starbucks - Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso or Iced White Mocha with Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam and Caramel Drizzle

Starbucks in the university library is another hot spot for students to get their caffeine fix. Student Manager Bella Marshall said the location’s most popular drink is typically a Brown Sugar Shaken Espresso, but the iced White Mocha with Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Foam and Caramel Drizzle is quickly gaining popularity.

So, next time you’re on a coffee run, try out one of these favorites at these local shops. We’ve found out that there's a common thread throughout these drinks, at Kent State we like our coffee like we like our weather: cold but sweet.

LaTisha Culler is the first of her siblings to complete a degree at a four-year university. She’s married (she met her husband at Kent State), with four children. Her oldest daughter has just begun her first year of college.

Culler’s path to graduating from Kent State in fall 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in integrated studies and a minor concentration in human development and family studies, had a long series of twists, turns and challenges, spanning more than 20 years.

The winding road to her goal

She began her academic career on Kent State’s Kent Campus but soon had to move back home to Canton. In 2001, she continued her studies at Kent State’s Stark Campus. When she discovered she was pregnant with her second child in 2006, she decided to put her academic career on hold.

“I had a hard time figuring out, do I want to continue school? Do I wait?” Culler said. “I really thank God for the women and the staff at Kent Stark because one of the things I’ve always felt at Kent State is that it’s been a family to me.”

“I will never forget her telling me ‘Honey, take care of your family. School will be here,’” Culler said. After that, Culler said, “Life went on, life happened.” 

She started a family business.

“Out of nowhere, The Lord spoke to me and said, “It’s time for you to go back to school.”

She was accepted at Kent State in Fall 2018, but when her daughter passed away after a long battle with cancer, she needed to put school on hold once again. 

Culler (second from left) with the staff of Kent State University's Office of  Outreach and Engagment. She shadowed this office as part of a project in one of her courses. 

A call back to campus

In 2021, Culler received a call from an academic advisor at Kent State at Stark, informing her that her name was on the list for a Second Chance Grant. “And she basically answered a prayer that I had. So, then I went back to school and here I am, graduated in 2022.”

Culler was able to graduate with the help of that grant and additional scholarship funding. “I call it being a ‘super senior.’ I had run out of additional aid and maxed my limit for student loans. But these scholarships helped me complete a goal that I had when I graduated high school, which was graduating from Kent State University.”

While working with University Outreach and Engagement, Culler met with students from Akron high schools during Senior Visit Day.

Her message to students

The thing Culler would want other students to know about Kent State is this: “A lot of times, a lot of students like me, or friends that I’ve graduated with, they don’t think that college is a possibility. They don’t think they have, they’re smart enough or have the grades or may not have the support,’ Culler said. “But what I can say about Kent State is I love the work the university is doing in engagement and outreach to get students here. I just love it.”

Now, Culler has a position as a patient and family advocate for the Eva Women’s Clinic in Akron – a clinic offering free pregnancy tests and limited ultrasound screenings for women in the community. She feels that the things she learned at Kent State have enriched her ability to connect with families through enhanced communication skills and the ability to build interpersonal relationships with the people she interacts with in the community.

“I will be forever grateful and thankful for the life-changing experiences, lessons learned, the growth – and the adversities that were both impactful and meaningful as a teen and as an adult on the campuses of Kent State University.”

Culler (center) giving campus tours to incoming freshman as part of Kent State University at Stark's Welcome Team