Stark Voices Spring 2017

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Volume 2 / Edition 1

Spring 2017


by Christine Miller



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About Stark Voices Letter from the Editor Article Synopses Feature Article Articles Instructor Acknowledgment Staff and Contributors

ABOUT STARK VOICES Stark Voices is committed to recognizing Stark State students’ excellence while facilitating an academic conversation highlighting diverse perspectives, critical insights, and thoughtful reflection through publication of student work. In order to ensure that the publication holds to the academic standards of excellence, submission of work is accepted only through an instructor with the consent of the student. Materials must be nonfiction and must comply with general requirements, which include clear focus, substantive content, unique voice, accurate citations, included references (as applicable), and a minimal need for editing. Stark Voices is overseen by a committee of professors within the English and Modern Languages Department. Technical Communications majors, in their last semester before graduation, are required to hold an internship position within the committee and oversee the publication process, holding all executive titles and responsibilities. As such, Stark Voices is a student-run publication that incorporates a culmination of learned processes that include all aspects of publication, such as interviewing, customer service, editing, layout and design elements, and collaborative efforts between faculty and the student body. Stark Voices encourages all students with an interest in communication, publication, writing, and graphic design to consider joining the committee and assisting in the recognition of fellow students. Faculty who encounter high-quality student writing and wish to foster academic achievement and advance student success can submit student essays for publication consideration throughout the academic year. DISCLAIMER: The content of this publication represents the academic exploration of individual students. The perspectives expressed are not representative of the official positions of Stark State College. 1

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STARK VOICES LETTER FROM THE EDITOR It has been my great honor to serve as editor of Stark Voices this semester. As many of you know, Stark Voices recently transformed from a student newspaper into a college journal that features excellent student essays written by Stark State College students. The unique format of Stark Voices allows instructors the opportunity to nominate outstanding nonfiction writing in order to share it with a broader audience. Students from Stark State College are a highly diverse group, so it is fitting that each essay selected for this issue reflects a variety of student life experiences. This edition features eight essays. When the selection committee deliberated upon and ultimately chose these essays, it didn’t have a theme in mind. Now, as I write this letter, it occurs to me that there is a theme of sorts: the one feature they all have in common is that they were written by authors whose perspectives were ultimately changed, often profoundly, by their unique personal experiences. Three of the essays--“I Am More,” “Empathy for Domestic Violence Victims,” and “Homeless Heart”-deal with the harmful impacts of societal judgment on people in stigmatized groups. “Making the Decision” and “Sobriety” discuss drug addiction from the perspective of the addict. In these two essays, the authors reveal with refreshing honesty the highly personal paths they took to attain and maintain sobriety. “Twenty Days” and “The Pet Store” contemplate the painful lessons that regret and loss can teach us if we’re willing to learn. And the last essay, “Taken by Storm,” takes readers on a beautiful adventure in search of music. It has been my great pleasure to work with the authors of these essays. The responsibility to shepherd their work and be true to their intentions was one I took very seriously. To them I say thank you for your willingness to trust me. To the advisers, Elizabeth Modarelli and Nicole Herrera, thank you for allowing me to do this work and for having faith in me. Your tireless work and commitment to this publication has been an inspiration to me. And finally, thank you to our unsung hero, graphic design student Matt Brady, for making this issue pleasing to read.

Alison A. Romeo Editor, Stark Voices

Spring 2017



Article Synopses i am more

BY Christine Miller

pg. 5

Most of us are familiar with the old adage, “if you do the crime, you do the time,” but how many of us consider what happens to felons when they’ve finished serving their prison sentences? Christine Miller tackles this question in our featured essay. Drawing from her personal experiences as a convicted felon, she shines a light on the societal prejudices that prevent ex-convicts in this country from finding jobs and becoming contributing members of society. Christine argues that society’s failure to provide them with opportunities results in more crime and a less productive and compassionate world. INSTRUCTOR: Nicole Herrera

Empathy for Domestic Violence Victims”

BY Robyn Boughton

pg. 7

Why do many victims of domestic violence choose not to seek help, opting instead to stay with their abusers? What factors contribute to their seemingly paradoxical decisions? Robyn Boughton’s essay addresses these questions. Drawing from her own experiences as a domestic violence survivor, she clearly explains the thought processes that victims use and encourages her readers to exercise empathy instead of judgment. INSTRUCTOR: Elizabeth Modarelli

Homeless Heart

BY Jonathan Starek

pg. 9

Homelessness is such a ubiquitous problem in many cities that we often stop seeing homeless people as unique individuals with interesting, often tragic, and sometimes inspiring stories to tell. In this essay, Jonathan Starek recalls the honest conversation he had one afternoon with a homeless man he had previously overlooked. His insights might provoke readers to think more compassionately about the homeless and others who are on the margins of society. INSTRUCTOR: Elizabeth Modarelli

Making the Decision PG. 11

BY Athena Mack

In this harrowing first-person account of a day in the life of a heroin addict, Athena Mack bravely shares the lengths to which she would go to get the fix she needed to feel like a normal person. Her honest and insightful essay focuses on the intensely personal battle she waged to beat her own addiction and provides encouragement to family and friends of others in the throesof addiction to let them make their own decisions too. INSTRUCTOR: Nicholas Kincaid


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Sobriety PG. 13

BY Kelly Zickefoose

Drug abuse hurts the lives of millions of Americans every year, and sadly, many people are never able to break free from their addictions. Kelly Zickefoose is not one of these people. In this reflective essay, she discusses how her “rock-bottom” was transformed into her life’s proudest achievement and how freedom from the tyranny of addiction has opened up a world of possibilities for her. INSTRUCTOR: Catherine Rock

Twenty Days PG. 14

BY Margaret Ruby

When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is affected. In this poignant essay, Margaret Ruby wrestles with regret and remorse as she recalls the last two years of her mother’s life. Her honest reflections highlight the brevity of life and the futility of holding onto grudges. INSTRUCTOR: Christopher Schillig

The Pet Store PG. 16

BY Samantha Budd

Children love to visit the pet store, but what happens when an animal lover grows up and finds employment there? Samantha Budd addresses this question in her personal essay about working at a pet store. What she exposes might make people think twice about buying their next pet there. INSTRUCTOR: Elizabeth Modarelli

Taken By Storm PG. 17

BY S. Sidney Tucker

For many people, outdoor music concerts are a summertime staple. In this lyrical essay, S. Sidney Tucker takes readers on a journey to one such concert. The vivid, beautiful account of his experience is filled with rich detail that affords us a brief window into a magical time and place. INSTRUCTOR: Duane Dodson

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I Am More By Christine Miller


sat in the sticky booth, my insides coiled as tightly as a rattlesnake about to strike. The interview seemed to be going well; I kept a pleasant smile pasted on my face as the hiring manager flipped over the paper application. His eyebrows knit together in confusion. He peered over the top of the paper at me, then back down at the application. He dropped it on the table. “You checked the box that you have a felony?” he asked quietly. “Yes, sir, I do,” I began, then launched into my carefully rehearsed speech. “I did commit a mistake a couple years ago; however, I have taken full responsibility for my crime and have complied with the courts in every way. I have put my past behind me and have turned over a new leaf. I want to become a normal, functional member of society.”


I kept that smile in place. My heart was pounding. I felt a droplet of sweat bead between my shoulders, then slowly roll down my back. I mentally pleaded with him to give me a chance. “I …well, here we don’t, um... .” The man was clearly uncomfortable. “I’m so sorry--I didn’t see that before I called you in. I should’ve checked. It’s just that we don’t … .” he trailed off. “That’s okay! I completely understand.” I stood, relieving him of the awkward duty of informing me that their establishment was not in the business of employing convicts. I stuck my hand out, that smile still pasted on my face. “Thank you very much for the consideration! Have a great day.” I shook his hand and turned around quickly to leave before he could see the

tears beginning to well in my eyes. I walked outside, glancing at a huge advertisement on the window just beside the door promoting some new burrito flavors. I looked down at my list of possibilities and mentally crossed off Taco Bell. If they won’t give me a chance, who will? How am I going to pay my bills? How will I live? I could feel the tears coming back. I took a deep breath, composing myself. I straightened my spine and pushed my shoulders back. I lifted my head, chin up. “Where’s that shitty smile?” I thought. “There it is. Put it on, girl.” I smoothed my shirt and remembered the prison uniform that I used to wear. I got through that, and I’ll get through this. I looked next door at the McDonald’s with a huge “We’re Hiring!” poster in the window. I started walking over there.

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STARK VOICES Before prison, I was a whiny, selfish brat. I was quite melodramatic; I thought my life was so hard. I thought I needed to be with a rebellious crowd, smoke weed, and date older boys because that is what is expected from a teenager that grew up as I had. I thought I was special and that the rules didn’t apply to me. True, I grew up poor. I was bullied a lot in school. I was sexually abused by a family member as a small child. Excuses. Yeah, that all sucks, but in no way does it excuse my behavior. I did what I did because I wanted to. I won’t put the blame anywhere else but on me; it was my choice. I think the moment I changed was actually during intake at the state penitentiary. The humiliation was brutal. Stripped completely naked, I stood against a wall with all the other women coming in that day. The nurse walked down the line and gave us an injection. I don’t know for what. We shuffled through to a room where we were showered. Then we did the classic squat and cough. The next room was the worst, though. After donning our peagreen jumpsuits, a handful of other women and I were singled out and pulled aside. I was taken into a room with a single chair in the middle. There was hair all over the floor. Oh my god, no! I knew what this was. I cried shamelessly as they pulled me to the chair, gathered up my waist-length golden hair, and unceremoniously snipped it off above my shoulders. I was humbled. I was broken down. And I was taught an odd kind of respect too. When I went to prison, I realized that everyone there had a story. I wasn’t special. I wasn’t the only one with the hard life. My life was cake in comparison to many others. I learned so much from the older women who had done a lot of time. They told me to straighten up my act real quick, or I was going to be like them: sixty years old and still looking at iron bars every day. So I made a choice. I changed. I told myself that I wasn’t going to be the old me anymore. She was a dumb, selfish bitch. I was going to be a stronger woman for this. I was going to be better. I even started spelling my name differently. It was kind of a silly symbolic thing, I suppose, but it meant something to me.

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I had no idea that the struggles on the outside of prison were going to be ten times worse than the struggles on the inside. For someone who is going to go back to her old ways, sure, prison was just a blip on the radar, merely an interruption. But for someone who actually wanted to change and be a better person, it was damn near impossible. I couldn’t get hired at Taco Bell, for Christ’s sake! I had bills stacked up from my time on the inside; I had court costs and fines in the thousands of dollars. I owed multiple family members hundreds apiece. And no one would hire me. I could see the disgust in people’s eyes when I told them I have a felony. I’m more than my record, but it’s so hard for people to see that. Sometimes I wonder if the public perceptions of our community fuel the perceptions we have of ourselves. Then, do we feel the need to “live up” to it? Ask any psychologist; if you tell someone enough times that she is trash, eventually she is going to believe it. It’s a real struggle to distance oneself from the past when it’s constantly being thrown in one’s face. My idea of becoming this new, changed person quickly became a daunting task. After being beaten down so much, I came to a point where I wondered if it was fruitless to try. I could easily use it as an excuse not to strive for better. Remember that McDonald’s I went to after I left the Taco Bell? They gave me a chance and even let me work my way up into shift management. But was that all I was meant for? Surely I was destined to be more than a fast food manager, right? This can’t be all there is. But where to go? What to do? I wasn’t ever going to go anywhere worthwhile if I always had to check that box on the application.

So now we come to the public. Why do you care? Why should you care about my community? We did the crime; now do the time, right? It’s our fault; maybe we shouldn’t have broken the law. I agree with that sentiment to a point. I absolutely believe in proper punishment for crimes, but this is something that changes everything, forever. Why are there so many multiple-convicted felons? It would have been so much easier to go back to my old ways and eventually back to prison. And round and round the cycle goes. But for a felon to try to break that cycle? It’s damn near impossible. If there was a better system in place to properly rehabilitate us and get us back into the job market and make us productive, I guarantee that the overall crime rate would plummet. It took me years to climb out of all that debt, years before I was eligible for an expungement. Even with my felonies expunged, certain agencies can still access my record, so I’m still very limited in the job market. To this day, every career decision I make is accompanied by enormous anxiety. I thought my price was paid, but now I realize that one mistake made as a stupid teenager will define me for the rest of my life. This is why the public should care about my community: We are more than our prison numbers. We are more than just our records. We are so much more than that. We CAN be so much more. We made a mistake. We want to make it better. The world just needs to let us.

About the Author Christine Miller is a pseudonym for a chemistry major at Stark State. When she graduates, she plans to move to the Carolinas to work in a large, thirdservice EMS system and work toward becoming a nurse practitioner. Being a part of a community of felons has had a huge impact on her life, influencing every major decision she makes. Though serving time in prison was traumatic, the experience changed her into a different and better person, for which she will always be thankful. 6


Empathy for Domestic Violence Victims By Robyn Boughton


magine you’re looking out your window as red and blue lights bounce off the lawn and the nice houses and the nice cars in your nice neighborhood. Across the street, you see police officers loading a man in handcuffs into the back of a squad car. You see a woman standing on the lawn and speaking to the police officer. You think to yourself, “Wonderful, just what I want to see in my nice neighborhood.” Subconsciously, what have you decided about the woman on the lawn? Is she problematic? Stupid? Likely to go right back to the arms of the man who was just hauled off? A lost cause? Those are just a few of the descriptors that people often associate with people who have been victims of domestic violence. Most assumptions are created based at least partly on fact. In many cases, victims have a propensity to make poor decisions, like choosing to go back to the person who has harmed them. Or sometimes the victims decide not to seek help and not to avoid or leave the things or people that put them in bad situations. So while it is understandable that in some cases these negative assumptions will be correct, there are far many more cases where they are wrong. Verbal, emotional, and physical abuse are the tools in an abuser’s toolbox, and each can be equally as damaging as the others. Abuse is abuse, no matter the form, and victims of abuse are never deserving of it. Abusers may use many excuses to attempt to justify their abuse, and this is the first part that observers often misunderstand. Imagine, once more, that someone whom you care about hurts you. How they hurt you is irrelevant; simply imagine that they do. Afterwards, they apologize and attempt to explain to you why their actions were a mistake, justifiable, etc. At this stage, the victim


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STARK VOICES wants to believe that what the abuser is telling her is true, and so she continues until the next incident. This raises the question: Why don’t victims see this as a red flag? The answer is simple. Domestic abuse victims often lack the family and friend structure that would normally be there to help them see what is really happening and to give them perspective on the situation. The support structure is either missing from the beginning or is something the abuser has whittled away over time, and in either case, this allows abusers to operate mostly unchallenged. Their logic for their actions is akin to propaganda, and with no one to challenge them but the victim, they often remain unchallenged for quite some time. Only when a boiling point is reached do cracks appear in an abuser’s argument, and that is when a scene such as was described in the first paragraph plays out. The boiling point has been reached, and now law enforcement is involved. The victim seemingly has access to resources that should help her escape and yet often in no time, she is back in the arms of her abuser. Why? While it may seem like a nobrainer to us while we watch from the safety of our separate lives, for the victim, it is never that simple. Oftentimes, victims aren’t aware of the resources that are out there, and as mentioned previously, they lack a support structure to lean on when things fall apart. This serves to make victims feel that their only option is to put up with their abusers. This doesn’t make the victims stupid; it makes them human! When we as humans cannot see other options, we often continue to do the same thing the same way until we are shown or discover for ourselves how to do things differently. How do I know this? I am a victim of domestic violence. After high school, I entered into a very short, very abusive relationship. A friend introduced me to a guy whom I began to date, and in the beginning, nothing was out of the ordinary. Shortly into the relationship, however, he began to verbally abuse me. I was involved in a car accident, and one day my boyfriend saw a car that was very similar to mine driving around town, which prompted

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him to call me and berate me for allegedly lying to him about having been involved in an accident. When he eventually realized that he was wrong, he made a number of excuses for his actions, such as that he was just upset because he “cared so much.” I was naïve to this “red flag” and even felt bad, as though I had caused him to be this upset, when in reality, I had done absolutely nothing wrong. It wasn’t long after that incident, however, that he began to get violent and grab me forcefully by the wrists, arms, chin, and face, which was accompanied by lots of screaming and verbal abuse, which chipped away at my self-worth. After every abusive incident, he would apologize profusely and attempt to explain his behavior. At the same time, he would take every chance to distance me from my friends and my family, doing everything possible to drive a wedge between them and me. He always had a different reason as to why my friends and family were bad people and why they were actually “against” me. It wasn’t until his behavior began to threaten my life that things escalated to a point where law enforcement was involved, and I was provided with resources to help me exit the relationship. Abusers essentially attempt to brainwash their victims, so I almost felt like I was doing something wrong when I decided to leave the relationship and get as far away from him as possible. It was one of the best choices I’ve ever made, but at the time, it was also one of the hardest, and for people with less support, less willpower, or less emotional fortitude, it is easy to see how they could end up back with their abuser. This problem

is only compounded by the fact that the abuser and victim may be married and may also share a house, finances, or even children. Even if victims seek help, they face an uphill battle in having to prove how and by whom they were abused. This process can be quite humiliating for the victim, if only because of the sheer number of times that she has to recount her story. The next time that you see or hear about a victim of domestic violence, it’s important to remember that there are things happening in that person’s life that are invisible to everyone but her and to try to avoid making the assumptions that society so often makes. As with the legal precedent of “innocent until proven guilty,” victims of domestic violence also deserve the benefit of the doubt. At the end of the day, no matter how successful victims are in escaping their situations, the traumatic experiences of being abused stay with them. The burden of carrying those experiences for the rest of their lives is, of itself, worthy of our empathy.

About the Author Robyn Boughton is a second-semester student at Stark State College. She hopes to be accepted into the dental hygiene program and graduate in May 2020 so that she can further her career goal of becoming a dental hygienist. As a survivor of domestic violence, she was inspired to write this essay because she understands how society often negatively views victims of domestic violence and judges them in a harsh and unjust way.



Homeless Heart By Jonathan Starek

“No thank you,” he replied. “I already ate.” We sat down. Before I could say anything, Max--still beaming a big smile--started talking. “I have phocomelia.” The looks of contempt focused in his direction were more than those that just a homeless man would receive. Max looked different. While his legs were relatively normal, his arms were short, and his hands looked more like claws. He had a deformed ear that was partially covered up by his hair. Phocomelia is a rare genetic deformity in which the hands or feet are attached close to the trunk, the limbs grossly underdeveloped or even absent.


he aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled the air. Plentiful donuts and bagels were stacked neatly on the trays, one behind the other. The fireplace was lit, providing warmth to several people gathered around the hearth. The space was filled with customers going on with their lives, oblivious to those around them. There was one exception: a lone, disheveled man wearing dirty, beat-up clothes. His hair was long and wavy but noticeably unkempt. People’s looks of contempt battered him from every direction. His name is Max.


Max’s life had not been easy. Given up at birth because of his defect, he had lived for many years in various orphanages. He had been subjected to bullying and abuse throughout his early years, and as he’d gotten older, the torture had worn on him like concrete. Playing with other children had been almost out of the question; he had not been able to do the things other kids could do. Rare had been the time he would make a friend. Education had been difficult, and he had not done well. He said that growing up without a real family--with no one to comfort him, hold him, or wipe his tears--had been the worst part of living those early years. He had been given only the necessities needed to exist.“Animals were treated better,”he said. Max is a homeless man in his late thirties that I had met and given money to a couple of times in the past. His favorite hangout is the corner of Market Avenue and Fulton Road. I asked him to meet me at Dunkin Donuts so I could better understand him and how he became a homeless statistic. I walked over to where he was sitting, and as our eyes met, he gave me a big smile. He extended his dirty, dry hand and we shook. I was nervous. “Would you like something to drink or eat?” I asked.

As time went by, his anger had grown. He would routinely get into fights and wind up on the losing end. In his teens, he had begun to turn to drugs. First, he had tried marijuana and then heavier drugs like cocaine and prescription pills. He had begun to steal to support his growing habit. Many times, he had considered suicide. Eventually, Max had ended up on the street, living in the shadows and begging for money. While we spoke, I looked around at the people pretending not to stare. Our eyes would meet, and they would look away.

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STARK VOICES I could hear their whispers but could not make out what they said. The look of disdain was all I needed to see on their faces. It made me realize that I, too, looked at others differently and judged them by their appearance. It made me sick to my stomach. I was just as guilty as everyone else staring and whispering at those who are different than me. Max said that one day a stranger had given him fifty dollars. “I was humbled,” he said. “There is good out there.” Max decided that life was worth living. He made a promise to himself to change his attitude and his outlook on life: “I decided I had to stop the drugs and stop thinking negatively. I needed a different goal.”Driving a vehicle was something he never imagined he could accomplish. While his arms could not effectively use the steering wheel, there were options to modify the wheel. He set a goal to acquire and save money any way he legally could. Over time, Max saved enough money to buy a used truck that he now drives and which sometimes doubles as his home when he is not in a shelter. Today Max still lives on the street, accepting gifts from strangers. He is content to enjoy the simple things in life: a sunrise, birds flying overhead, the snow on the ground. Gone is the bitterness of his childhood and the lost years of adulthood. Now he just smiles and looks to the generosity of others for his existence.

We tend to look past people like Max, pretending not to see them. If we cannot fit them in our neat little boxes of what we consider the norm, it is easier for us not to see them at all. Ignoring them is easier than taking the time to recognize and celebrate their differences. This pattern of human behavior keeps people like Max from maximizing their potential contribution to society. We must stem the tide of prejudice and injustice, embracing that which makes us eachunique individuals. Max has spent his life surrounded by ignorance and hate because he is different from the rest of us. It robbed him of his spirit, leading him to dark places that were difficult to emerge from. Taking the time to look at individuals--the people behind the appearance--will give them hope and provide us with a little understanding of their existence. Max and I spent 45 minutes together. For 45 minutes, I took time to get to know Max the person and found a warm, caring individual who has overcome many challenges in his life. We shook hands and parted company. Good-bye, Max. I will never forget your homeless heart.

About the Author Jonathan Starek wrote this essay after being challenged to do something out of his comfort zone. He is a second-semester business management major at Stark State College with plans to transfer to Mount Union University next fall. In addition to being a student, Jon is a full-time server at a North Canton restaurant.

About the Artist Teresa Crater is a 3D motion graphic technology major in her third semester at Stark State. Upon graduation, she plans to continue her studies at Kent State University. She is currently employed at Michael’s Craft Store, and after completing her college degrees, she aspires to begin a career as a set designer. As an artist, she has always enjoyed drawing people and her sketch entitled “Pondering” draws from that love.. Spring 2017



Making the Decision By Athena Mack


he air is still crisp, but I struggle to find comfort as the sun is rising over the horizon. I take the cardboard that I slept on the previous night and move it into the shade. I try to gain consciousness as my stomach growls loudly. I can’t remember the last time I ate; eating was never the main mission. I kick my partner, Ryan, to wake him up. He’s my only constant in this place. “Partners in Crime,” they call it. And crime is what I had to commit to get what we needed. Despite the climbing temperatures, I’m freezing. I’m sick to my stomach, and all I can think about is my next score. I’m weak and can barely keep my feet under me, but there’s no time for this. I need to get up off the ground, break into a few abandoned buildings, strip the metals, and get some cash fast. This is my life; welcome to my addiction. I am a heroin addict living on the streets of Phoenix. I’m a long way from home and wouldn’t want it any other way. The further away from the ones I love, the less likely I am to take advantage of them, the less likely I’ll be told what I’m doing is wrong, the less likely I’ll have to feel accountable for it all. I can’t remember the last time I talked to my family. I’m sure they miss me, but I don’t have time to think about that either. The sickness is kicking in, and I need to get well immediately. Ryan and I hit the pavement in search of our first “come up”. Behind some residential apartments will work. There are people living in them, and we are relatively exposed to passersby. I am the lookout while he sneaks into the back and cuts the copper piping to the water supply. I sit calmly on the curb while my mind runs rampant. I’m carefully listening to the city noises of cars zipping up and down the streets, people talking, and music playing, but I’m more anxious to hear the sound of Ryan running back to me. The breeze should feel nice, but it hurts my skin and


sends chills up my spine. The higher the sun rises, the hotter it gets. So why am I still freezing? It seems like hours go by before he relieves me from my position. We jump on our bikesand race up to the scrap yard. We’re excited to see what we have. We drop the metal on the scale, and receive a whole $23. Not even enough for the two of us to get what we need. Now it’s my turn. We cross the street to the local grocery store. I walk into the alcohol aisle right away, grab a few liters of expensive whisky, slip out the door, and off to the local drunk we go. I sell them to this man for half the store price, and now my partner and I can go score. Quickly we call “Dude,” our supplier. Ryan always calls because for some reason, Dude favors him. He says we have to wait an hour before we can meet. Since we have reached our final hurdle, there is nothing more to do than play the waiting game. It’s never truly an hour before he shows; it’s always so much longer and always an agonizing wait. These dealers play this waiting game because they know they always win, no matter what. We are addicts and will do just about anything to get what we need. Sitting in some shade near the meetup spot, we try not to focus on the withdrawal. The sneezing and coughing start up. My eyes are watering, and I’m doubled over in pain. The heroin is the only thing numbing my mind and body from everything. Now that the drugs are wearing off, my senses are coming back to me, and everything is intensified in the worst way possible. Simply touching my own skin hurts, every joint in my body is cracking and aching with pain, and the pit in my stomach becomes unignorable. It hurts. I hate this. I just need my fix so I canfunction like a normal person again. The abscess on my inner leg

is throbbing. I should probably go to the hospital. But that’s the last thing on my mind. Ryan handles his withdrawal much better than I do. Either that, or he’s better at hiding how much he would rather die than feel this way. Just when I feel like giving up and going elsewhere, Dude shows up. Quickly, he and Ryan make the exchange, and then we’re off to our spot to cook up our medicine. We creep through the backyard of an abandoned house and through the back door. This house has already been looted for anything inside. All that is left is trash from squatters. The smell of feces makes it hard to even go inside, but the fix is all that matters right now. Careful not to step in anything lying on the floors, we make it to a back bedroom. Digging into our backpacks, we get out our tools. I unwrap my bundle and make sure everything is there. Spoon? Check. Q tips? Check. Lighter? Check. Syringe? Everything is there. I look over my syringe to make sure there aren’t any spurs on the tip. I have used it so many times that it’s beginning to dull. I don’t care, though. I’m going to make it work. We split the piece of heroin and go about our business. Putting the piece in the spoon, I quickly cook it up. The putrid smell of the cooking drug almost makes me vomit. I’m shaking like a leaf because I’m so ill, but I have to keep it together. If I drop it, I’ll be screwed. Without missing a beat, I plunge that needle straight into my favorite spot. Ol’ Faithful, I like to call her. She never lets me miss. I pull back the plunger just to make sure I’m in. Watching the already dark liquid become red, I proceed to inject my disease. A sigh of relief comes over me while a radiant warmth travels to every end of my body. I can feel it moving through me. I sit there for a moment, but only a moment. As I close my eyes and

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begin to drift away, I realize this is not the place to be passing out. The house we are in is always watched by the cops, and we can’t risk getting caught. Now we can go about our day as if we are normal, as if we hadn’t woken up feeling like death was a better option. But this feeling won’t last for long. Soon enough we’ll be back for more. What kind of life is this, living day to day just to feed the hunger? Days like that are the ones I remember the most. They are the memories that keep me sober today. Addiction is a battle against yourself and the rest of the world. I’m not delusional. I know I made these choices on my own. Not once did someone force my hand. I can’t tell you how many times my family tried saving me; even strangers had tried saving me. I refused to change my life. I felt hopeless, like there was no other way to live. And I guess, deep down, I was too lazy to change; I didn’t want to be a part of everyday society or have responsibilities. Ultimately, I had to make the decision to change my life around and be done with the endless, downward spiral of misery. I was tired of the running, tired of the jail sentences, and tired of always having to

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look over my shoulder. No one else could have made that choice to change for me. It was me, alone, that had to make this happen. I stress this point because I see so many people trying to take addicts by the hand and show them the way, and the majority of the time, it never changes the addict. My decision to remain sober is the reason I continue to be sober today. For anyone that may have a loved one going through something similar, it’s hard not to get involved. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be there for this person. It’s only natural to try to help, but I urge you, keep your distance. Make boundaries because you can become just as addicted to saving these people as they are to the drug. It is their decision, and unfortunately, you will have to wait for them to make the right one. Hopefully, they will before it’s too late. I am fortunate to have gotten past this in my life. There were many times I overdosed and came close to death, and there were many situations when my life was in the hands of another with malicious intent. It didn’t matter how many times I came close to losing my life, it wasn’t until I realized that I was worth so much more and decided to change that I was able to

get help and stay sober. I went to rehab, which helped to give me tools to survive in the real world, and I’ve been sober for over three years now. I live with family, but that’s okay; it is giving me time to get on my feet, save money, and go to college so I can have a promising career and future. Staying sober has honestly been a lot easier than I thought it would be. Remembering the hell I once lived keeps me from going back out.

About the Author Athena Mack is a civil engineering student in her second semester at Stark State. She hopes to earn a master’s degree in architecture and work as an interior designer remodeling homes. Currently employed as a bartender at the Canal Boat Lounge, she also works part-time at Giant Eagle. In her spare time, she enjoys playing in a pool league and riding horses with her friend Kendra.



Sobriety By Kelly Zickefoose

day that I do not give in to temptation because every day is a struggle. I look back to October 23, 2011, and I thank God for helping me make the choice I did. I knew I had to get sober because I was at rock bottom, and I had nothing going for me in life. As hard as it was, I knew giving up or giving in was not an option.


ctober 23, 2011, was one of the best days of my life. If it were not for this day, I would not be the person I am today. This is the day that I chose to become sober--sober from all the drugs and alcohol that I was slowly killing myself with. I knew I was putting myself to the test, probably the hardest test I would ever take in my life. I knew that if I made this choice, I was not just giving up the substance, but I was also giving up the lifestyle and the friends. I really had no idea if I was even going to be strong enough to fight this battle. I saw a physical and mental change almost instantly. I had lost weight from taking multiple drugs, drinking, and never eating. I was mentally drained from never sleeping because I was often up for multiple days partying. I got back on a regular, healthy diet and got my weight back to normal. I was finally able to rest and get more than an hour of sleep a day. I felt 110% better compared to when I would wake up with a hangover every single day. My friends and family always told me how proud they were of me. If I hadn’t made this choice when I did, I would not be anywhere near where I am today. The best feeling in the world is knowing that I overcame a huge obstacle in my life. This


accomplishment makes me feel as if I can overcome anything this world throws at me because I beat addiction. One of the worst parts of this battle was going through the withdrawal. The first week was the hardest; I woke up every day feeling like I was dying. The pounding in my head and the sharp pains in my stomach felt as if I was being stabbed. I knew this was going to happen; one of the hardest parts of getting sober was knowing that if I took just one drink, one hit, or one snort, that feeling of death would disappear. Through the withdrawal part of my sobriety, the pain was so bad that I thought I was not strong enough to keep going. Through this part of my sobriety, I had an amazing support team that told me I was strong and capable of pulling through this sickness. The one thing that led me to this decision was that my best friend and the love of my life was going to give up his sobriety if I did not stop heading down the path I was on. I thought to myself, “Is it really worth it to lose him over something so stupid?� I realized he was worth more to me than the high I had been chasing for all those years. I know in my heart that as long as I keep fighting and pushing forward, I can stay on the right path. I hope and pray every

Some people look at being sober as a bad thing, but to me it is the greatest accomplishment I have ever achieved. I have realized that I will never reach an end or a destination when I am in recovery. Instead, it will be an everyday journey for the rest of my life. I figured out how strong I really am. I finally woke up and realized that I did not need drugs and alcohol to live my life happy. When I quit, I knew what it felt like to be free--finally free of the one thing that was keeping me from my full potential. Little did I know that this was a battle that would never end, but it is amazing to know that som ething so stupid can no longer control my entire life.

About the Author Kelly Zickefoose is a nursing major in her third semester at Stark State College and the mother of twin girls. An employee of Heather Knoll Nursing and Rehabilitation, she is on track to graduate from Stark State in 2019. Upon graduation, she plans to complete her bachelor of science degree in nursing. She aspires to work in a drug and alcohol rehab facility because she wants to encourage people who struggle with the same things she does every day. Her focus is on sharing her story and working hard to give her daughters a better life.

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Twenty Days By Margaret Ruby


unday, September 7, 2008, was my 14th birthday and the first time I had seen my mom in several months. She and I had had a falling-out the summer before because I found joy in rebelling against her every rule with the sole intention of pissing her off. As a result, my brother Chris and I were exiled to our dad’s house when she no longer had the energy to fight us. I knew that my mom was sick, and it wasn’t that I didn’t care; I was just too young and stupid to have a real grasp on the damage that I was doing. I was on a mission to discover myself, to see the world through my own eyes and find my own place in the world without my parents holding my hand every step of the way. At 13 years old, I could understand American History and could manage basic Algebra, but I could not comprehend cancer. In 2006, during a family vacation in North Carolina, my mom felt a lump on her left breast while cleaning sand out of her bathing suit top. She didn’t speak of her discovery at the time, but that evening she insisted that we all pose for multiple family photos on the boardwalk of our vacation house. In the photos you see a beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman tightly holding the people she adored most. Once home, she promptly scheduled investigatory medical appointments with multiple specialists and a few short weeks later was ultimately diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer, a form of breast cancer so aggressive that even the best oncologists in Ohio could only safely promise her two years. She was 38 years old. At the time of my mom’s diagnosis, I was in the seventh grade. She broke the news to me during the ride home from a winning volleyball game. She gently told me that she had been diagnosed with cancer, but that it was not the end of the world. She told me that she was likely

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going to lose her hair and that the treatments were going to make her tired for a while, but ultimately she was going to be fine. The only part of that conversation that I managed to hold onto for the two years that followed was unfortunately the only part that she was not honest with me about. In my eyes, nothing had really changed. My mom was still active in our lives, making appearances at all of our sporting events and school functions. She still drove us around in her old red Jeep, read books in her ugly green recliner, and made jewelry in the garage in her spare time. Had you asked my brother or me about our situation, we would have told you that we were just a normal family with a sick mom. She kept up this charade of health until she no longer could. The side effects of her medications caused mood swings, irritability, and loss of appetite. She became forgetful and constantly fell asleep in strange places. I took this as absentmindedness and neglect and selfishly assumed that she just didn’t care about me anymore. In the summer of 2008, my brother Chris and I moved in with our dad. With no visual representation of how our mom was actually doing, we assumed that she was fine. She would call, but we wouldn’t answer. We spent the summer racing our motorcycles around the yard and doing the things our mom had told us we weren’t allowed to do. That summer my grandmother sent me a postcard in the mail, begging me to see the reality of the situation and to stop being so selfish. Being the hardheaded teenager that I was, I chose to ignore that too. After weeks of pleading with my dad not to make me visit her, we agreed that on my birthday I would go and see her, even if I decided not to stay long. During the summer of my insubordination, my

mom’s condition had continued to worsen. She lost vision in her right eye due to a tumor pushing against her ophthalmic nerve, and she began having to use a walker to stay mobile in the house. On the day of my youngest brother Noah’s kindergarten open house, my once-powerful mother opted to stay home because she was afraid her appearance would scare the children. Where there had once been a full head of curly, platinum-blonde hair, she now donned a red bandana because she was ashamed of her appearance. Her body retained too much water due to her medication, and her skin was burned from radiation. Her body began to fail. On my birthday, I sat at her kitchen table and stared face-to-face at the woman who had always been the most beautiful person I had ever known. She looked 50 years older and spoke in a weak, raspy voice that did not suit her. Several poorly wrapped birthday gifts lay between us on the table. She apologized for their condition, but she had wrapped them herself. She showed me recipes that she wanted to cook with me when I moved home and talked to me for hours about how my summer had gone and how the school year was starting. She repeatedly apologized for crying, saying that her new medications made her “wimpy.” In that moment, every ounce of guilt that the earth could bestow upon me fell heavily onto my shoulders, and though I held myself together in her presence, I sobbed for hours when I went to bed that night. Four days later, my mom was transported via ambulance from her home to Mercy Medical Center after a fall in her kitchen. Shortly after arrival, her doctors made the final announcement that her body had, at most, two weeks left before it would cease to fight the disease. She was discharged to her home where she spent


STARK VOICES the remainder of her days surrounded by friends and family and her favorite holiday decorations, which I had dragged down from the attic so she could see them one last time. I would come home from school (on the days that I was strong enough to go) and sit in her ugly green recliner that I pulled next to her hospital bed, only moving from that spot if it was absolutely necessary. For six days, I sat in that recliner while holding her hand, painting her toenails, and talking to her, wishing desperately that I could have back the months that I had wasted. And then, after two years of fighting tooth and nail for her life, on September 27, 2008, she lost her battle with cancer, twenty days after my birthday. It’s difficult to explain this situation to someone who has never lived through it. I could tell you that she could only sleep if there was a fan running or that her favorite color was red. I could tell you that she loved the ocean, but you will never see her walking the sandy beach at sunrise looking for shark’s teeth as I once did. I could tell you that she made the best chicken and broccoli fettuccine alfredo that you could ever have the pleasure of eating, but without actually knowing her, they are just words on paper rather than places in time. Her


laugh could brighten a room, her smile was contagious, and she was the most giving and kind-hearted person I have ever known. So many small things made up the life of the blue-eyed wanderlust that I knew as my mom. She spent her life growing up and raising children of her own, only to have it cut short by a malicious tumor discovered completely by accident. Of all of the lessons this tragedy has taught me, perhaps the most obvious is that life is too short. Life is too short to treat the people you love like shit over something as trivial as anger. Life is so short, in fact,

that we do not have a single disposable second to waste refusing to open our hearts and forgive. The time that I spent being a bratty teenager could have been spent cooking those recipes with her in the kitchen. Regret is a hard thing to live with. It has been eight years since the last time I saw her, but I like to think that I am eight years closer to seeing her again. A lifetime seems like a long time until it’s over. With the knowledge of all that we could lose in a day, it’s tragic that we spend so much time ignoring the existence of the people whom we can’t live without.

About the Author Margaret Ruby is a nursing student in her second semester at Stark State working toward her Associate of Applied Science degree. Upon graduation, she plans to continue her education at Ohio State University, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She is currently employed as a pharmacy technician at Mercy Medical Center. Her mother’s enduring legacy provided the inspiration for this personal essay.

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The Pet Store By Samantha Budd


s a child, I walked into the pet store for the first time and was amazed at all the adorable small animals just hanging out. I had to stop and look at every cage: the tiny multi-colored hamsters with full bellies, the long and lean ferrets sleeping in their tunnel, all the fish swimming so happily in their tanks with their brothers and sisters, and-most of all--the reptiles that stuck to the glass with their mile-long tails. I was having the time of my life! I decided that since I loved animals so much, I would apply for a job there. Who better to take care of animals than an expert animal lover? So, after I went through all the boring paperwork and corporate junk, I got to start my new job. I walked in on my first day so happy and chipper thinking, “Heck yeah, I am going to get paid to play with animals all day long! Who wouldn’t love this job, right?” My trainer walked me through all the things my job entailed. As I expected, I had to feed and water all the pets and change their bedding. None of this was new to me, because pets come with responsibilities. However, it wasn’t long before I started to notice things that weren’t so pleasant. One day I walked into work to find a coworker removing a lifeless hamster from its home to a trash can, the same trash can that I threw my leftover lunch into. I was horrified, but my trainer explained that we don’t have time to dispose of them in a better way. This was something I would have to get used to. When I was growing up, my family had buried every pet when it died, no matter the size. Each one had its own grave and its own little service. The fact that I was going to have to throw these poor souls away bothered me. That same afternoon, it was my job to clean all the animal cages. I started with the hamsters, so small and colorful with their black, beady eyes. It felt good to take care of them, to be a caregiver. The first three cages were exactly what one would expect a hamster’s home to look like: a blue running-wheel in the corner, a green igloo with several small souls sleeping inside, and a few drowsy ones having a late breakfast or grooming themselves. When I got to the fourth cage, I was met with a

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surprise. There were furry bodies scattered everywhere throughout the metal box. Each critter’s body was stiff, cold, and mangled. Blood spatter stained the food dish and igloo. My heart sank as I removed each one and searched for survivors. Lifting up the igloo, I found one single soul sleeping peacefully. At first I was relieved, but then it hit me. This peacefully slumbering soul was, in fact, a monster and a cannibal. Not only had he mauled their onceadorable faces, but he had also hollowed out their corpses. Even though this cute little furball was a murderer, I treated him as I treated the rest. The cage was now solely his until the next shipment of hamsters. The very next day I checked on the hamsters, making sure they had food and water. Putting the food dish back in the cage, I found a small gray and white hamster who was barely breathing. I plucked him from the hay he was lying in and quickly ran to the storage room in the back of the store where we kept all the injured or sick animals. I ran him a warm bath and tried to clean his wounds the best I could. The poor thing was missing a foot and was half-chewed up from the others picking on him. After cleaning his wounds, I made him a comfortable and safe place to sleep for the night. I checked on him every day for a week; I even bottle-fed him when he wasn’t strong enough to do it himself. But in the end, my poor little friend did not make it. I came in one morning before the sun was even up and buried him the best I could outside the pet store behind the dumpster. I felt this was better than putting him in the trash because he was far from trash. He was a small angel who should have gotten a better chance at life. After working a little over three months at the hellhole we call a pet store, I noticed a change in myself. I would come into work dragging my feet and having the worst anxiety about what I might find in the small jail cells of the poor little prisoners. In a way, I felt like the guard at a low-budget prison. I would break up the fights between the strong and the weak. I would care for the hurt, not with hugs and kisses, but with medications and raw dinners, because management felt my time

was better used elsewhere. Finally, one day I was walking into work and stopped right outside the door. I looked up at the sign above me. I started to think about how, at one point, I used to walk into this place full of joy and ignorance, but now I walked in with my eyes wide open and a heavy heart. I started to wonder if others have felt this way, too. To do this job, I thought I had to be an animal lover, but really I had to be cold and detached. All the death I had to deal with had taken a toll on me. Not only did I notice that each small body I found had less of a heartwrenching effect than the last, but also I knew that I was the only one carrying the burden of seeing their twisted corpses. If I knew then what I know now, I would have been appalled and never shopped there, let alone worked there. I haven’t discouraged people from shopping at the pet store, but I do discourage people from buying our small rodents. I don’t offer other pet stores as a solution because I don’t feel they are any better than the store where I work, but I do offer the truth. I never lie when someone has questions about the behavior of the animals or the conditions in which they are kept, and I always suggest bigger pets such as cats and dogs and direct customers to nearby shelters. I was once too blind to see beneath the skin of the pet store’s propaganda and lies, and I refused to allow myself to believe that a corporation selling pets to loving homes would actually be in the business of harming them. But for now, I will continue to search for a more honest job.

About the Author Samantha Budd is a graphic design major in her second semester at Stark State College. She expects to graduate in May 2019 and hopes one day to work for Disney. Her negative experiences as an employee at a pet store inspired her to write about them. No longer employed there, she now works for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Canton. She is deeply grateful for all the support provided by the Writing Center and her professor, Elizabeth Modarelli.



Taken By Storm By S. Sidney Tucker

“Jump in, let’s go. Lay back, enjoy the show. Everybody gets high, everybody gets low, These are the days when anything goes.” - Sheryl Crow Pungent smoke wafted from the back seat and hung in the air like a dense cloud. The scent covered everything--a green fog that enveloped the rough upholstery, soaked into skin and hair, and permeated every breath. My eyes stung, and my chest ached. The bitter smoke was so thick that I could barely make out Wendy in the driver’s seat, much less Patrick in the backseat.


The verdant Pennsylvania countryside blurred as we sped along a two-lane road. The heat outside was palpable, an oppressive force I could see as it radiated up from the pavement in fuzzy waves. It was not just hot, but also humid. I imagined a glaze saturating all the greenery outside the same way the marijuana smoke was drenching everything inside the car. Inside or out, the end of July was sticky. The tires hissed over the road, a constant background noise that was strangely comforting . The conversation in the car became a cacophony of sounds

that blended with the tires to create a soundtrack for the journey. The actual words spoken weren’t as important as the intonation of our voices, a precursor to the music we were traveling so far from home to hear. Billowing clouds of dust and smoke welcomed us to the immense concert venue. Cars moved sluggishly through the gravel parking lot as if they, too, felt the moist heat. Indistinct music drifted on the thick, still air as people moved from car to tailgate and into a serpentine line stretching back from the gates. The scent

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STARK VOICES lawn provided no cover. Instead they became pathways for rivers of rainwater rushing down to further saturate us. Awareness slowly sank in that the concert wouldn’t be continuing this evening. The drenched crowd flowed along with the rainwater, swirling around the amphitheater, and draining into the parking lot. Smoke from quenched fires drifted up to hover in a dim haze over the vehicles. A million red eyes lit up the night as cars rumbled to life and rolled toward the exit.

of freshly cut grass blended with dust, charcoal, cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol, and perspiration to create a unique perfume: Eau de Outdoor Amphitheater. A flutter of hands and the pass of a wand admitted us through Security. Clusters of people gathered on the iridescent hills surrounding the stage. As the opening band deserted the stage, the electricity in the air was almost tangible. The three of us gathered among the fans, our unity declared by the monochromatic un-color of our black clothes. A few drops of rain fell: a barely noticeable, gentle pitter-pat of water. The amplifiers and speakers set in colossal towers on the stage hummed to life. A ripple of energy moved through the audience, and we stood as one to welcome the music. The heavy guitar and grinding bass rent the air, and as if on cue, rain plummeted from the sky in a stinging shower, a perfect special effect. The cold rain bathed our hot skin . It sucked the moisture and heat from the air like a greedy ghost as the sky swirled. Bits of grass, ticket stubs, and other debris danced across a lawn that was rapidly turning to mud. The shower morphed into a storm, huge droplets of rain pounding down without mercy as wind whipped around in a frenzy.

Bolts of lightning sizzled, the flashes

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lighting up the gray sky. Ferocious thunder replaced the music’s percussion with its own cracks and rumbles. With a precipitous crash, one brilliant bolt of lightning struck the stage, and the music terminated abruptly. The storm continued, unconcerned with something as insignificant as accompaniment. The rain became a deluge; water ran in torrents down the disintegrating hillside. A cascade of riotous current danced down the concrete stairs of the stage, transforming them into a post-modern waterfall. Dark, sodden figures dotted the landscape as we all watched and waited for an end to the cloudburst. Time stood still as the pouring rain drenched our bodies, soaking clothing, backpacks, and shoes. The few trees scattered at the fringe of the

We sat for what could’ve been years in that parking lot. I don’t remember closing my eyes, but I must have fallen asleep. When I opened my eyes and blinked to clear them, we were at our hotel. Rain fell in sloppy bursts, intermittent and irritating as we fled from the car into our shelter for the night. My mind buzzed like a fluorescent light--humming and flickering--not quite on completely. My gait was unsteady. Patrick stumbled as he walked, his head down and his long hair dripping. Wendy laughed at us. The hotel shower was a fantasy of tile and glass. I didn’t expect the hot water to last long, but it did. We filled the suite with steam and anticipation. It was strange that after being caught in a monsoon, we’d all want to be naked and wet, but that’s how we ended up: lying stretched across the king-sized bed, warm and clean with damp hair and unmet need. Hot water and steam had reinvigorated what the cold rain had killed. Concert be damned. We’d make our own music.

About the Author S. Sidney Tucker wrote this autobiographical essay based on events that occurred last July. He is a full-time HVAC student at Stark State College and a full-time husband and father. He was born and raised in western North Carolina in a strong, IrishCatholic family. After surviving a traumatic brain injury when he was 15 years old, he struggled in school and earned a GED instead of a traditional diploma. He spent much of his twenties working and traveling across the United States and met his wife in California. Upon his graduation in May 2018, he hopes to settle in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and son and aspires to work as an HVAC technician. 18

STARK VOICES instructor acknowledgments This page is dedicated to the Stark State College instructors who helped to develop the essays published within this journal. These instructors were instrumental in guiding students toward academic achievement. Thank you to all the instructors, faculty, and staff who dedicate their careers to creating educational advancement opportunities for their students.

Duane Dodson

Duane Dodson is an Assistant Professor in the English and Modern Languages Department. He teaches Introduction to Academic Writing. He received his B.A. in English and his B.A. in Spanish from Hiram College in 1980. He also earned his M.A. in English Composition from The University of Akron in 2004. Prior to his arrival at Stark State College, Professor Dodson was employed for two years each at John C. Fremont High School, Converse Consultants, and Earth Tech.


Nicole Herrera is an Assistant Professor in the English and Modern Languages Department. She teaches College Composition I and II, Business Communication, Academic Writing, Introduction to Academic Writing, and Technical Report Writing. Professor Herrera graduated from Bowling Green State University with a B.A. in Political Science (2001). She continued her studies at The University of Akron, where she earned her M.A. in English Composition (2008). Prior to her employment with Stark State College in 2009, Professor Herrera was employed at The University of Akron for two years. She is also an adviser for Stark Voices . In her free time, she enjoys running, coaching basketball and soccer, gardening, and being active with her husband and two children.

Nicholas Kincaid

Nicholas Kincaid is an Instructor in the English and Modern Languages Department. His areas of academic instruction at Stark State College include College Composition I and II, Introduction to Academic Writing, and Academic Writing. He graduated from The University of Akron with a B.A. in Philosophy (2005) and later received his M.A. in English Composition (2011). Mr. Kincaid began his teaching career at Kent State University prior to his employment with Stark State College in 2014..


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Elizabeth Modarelli is an Assistant Professor in the English and Modern Languages Department. Her courses of lecture include College Composition, Academic Writing, and Introduction to Academic Writing. She studied at The University of Akron, where she received her B.A. in English (1998), M.S. in Integrated Language Arts in Education (2003), and M.A. in English Composition (2009). Prior to her arrival at Stark State College in 2010, Professor Modarelli was employed by the Knox County Schools in Tennessee, Pellissippi State Community College in Tennessee, and The University of Akron. In addition to teaching academic courses, she is also an adviser for Stark Voices.

Catherine Rock

Catherine Rock is a Full Professor in the English and Modern Languages Department. She teaches Introduction to Shakespeare, British Literature, College Composition, Academic Writing, and Introduction to Academic Writing. She studied at The University of Akron, where she received her B.A. in Music, cum laude (1981); her French (1982); and her B.Mus. in Music History and Literature (1982). She also studied at the University of South Carolina, where she received her International MBA (1988), and Kent State University, where she earned her M.A. in French Literature (1991); her M.A. in English Literature (1998); and her Ph.D. in English Literature (2008). Prior to her arrival at Stark State College in 2000, Dr. Rock was employed by Summa Health System for four years and University Health Systems for three years.

Christopher Schillig

Christopher Schillig is an Adjunct Professor in the English and Modern Languages Department. He teaches Introduction to Academic Writing, College Composition I and II, and Academic Writing. He received his B.A. in English from the University of Mount Union (1990), his M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Ashland University (2006), and his M.A. in English from Southern New Hampshire University (2014). He began his employment at Stark State College in 2009, but he also continues to work for Alliance Publishing and Alliance City Schools..

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STARK VOICES Staff and Contributors Technical Communications Interns


Alison A. Romeo

Technical Communications Major



Committee Members

Elizabeth Modarelli Assistant Professor of English Nicole Herrera

Assistant Professor of English

Robert Berens

Assistant Professor of English

Duane Dodson

Assistant Professor of English

Graphic ArtWork and Publication Design

Publication Layout, Design, and Graphics Matt Brady

Graphic Design Major

For more information contact Stark Voices at

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