Recent KSU graduate Marina Strah combines degree with music


Marina Strah, Kent State Alumna, performs at the Ohio’s Got Talent competition Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014. Strah won the competition and was awarded with the opportunity to record her first music video through Humble Heroz Productions company.

Megan Brown

After winning Ohio’s Got Talent and’s web contest, recent Kent State graduate, Marina Strah, finds herself overjoyed by her success and future in music. She was also named one of Cleveland Magazine’s Most Interesting People of 2015.

“I was shopping in Rite Aid with the my mom the other day and saw the Most Interesting People issue on stands,” Strah said. “It’s crazy. I don’t think the shock of that is ever going to wear off.”

At 12-years-old, Strah started dabbling in music when she learned to play the drums. Throughout high school, she played the drums and was the section leader of the drumline. She then picked up the guitar during her senior year of high school and began to sing.

“I didn’t start to get that serious into music until this past year,” Strah said.

Strah looks up to Jessie J as one of her musical inspirations.

“Her vocals are ridiculous.”

She also described her love of the intensity and grittiness of Amy Winehouse’s voice.

Strah’s success started when her video was chosen to be a part of’s web contest for the best cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” Strah’s video was already up on YouTube, so the overwhelming number of views and selection of the video was unexpected.

“When I got the email about being chosen, I immediately thought of it as spam email,” Strah said. “I never in a million years thought my name would be associated with someone like Ryan Seacrest.”

She knew there were a number of other contestants, but she didn’t give her hopes up and took it as it came.

 “It was huge to be considered for this.”

 Just a few days before she got the news about the Ryan Seacrest competition, she won Ohio’s Got Talent on Sept. 13, 2014.

“It was the most ridiculous week of my life” she said.

She found out about the competition through a classmate, who worked for Humble Heroz, an independent record label based out of Akron. Strah was a month late to submit her application, but they managed to squeeze her into the competition.

“It was all rap and hip-hop music, and I was the only solo act,” Strah said. “And everyone went nuts.”

She played an original song and then a mashup of Bill Withers’ 1971 hit “Ain’t No Sunshine” and Kanye West’s “Heartless.”

“Everyone went crazy, and it was not expected at all.”

Strah graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in applied communications in the School of Communication Studies. She plans to utilize all she’s learned at Kent State toward her music career.

“I’ve learned how to promote myself as an artist and how to communicate better with an audience,” Strah said. “I’ll be using everything I learned in school.”

She also gives credit to her professors who helped her balance the craziness of her success with her coursework.

“Professor Michele Ewing helped me use my love for music with whatever project we were working on in class.”

When Strah needed help preparing for all of her interviews, she immediately went to Ewing for help.

“My PR Tactics class has a mock interview where I play the journalist and the student is the interviewee,” Michele Ewing, Journalism and Mass Communication associate professor, said.

This strategy helped Strah with face-to-face communication in her interviews.

“The beauty of PR is the combination of communication and passion,” Ewing said. “You can use PR to help add to career goals.”

Having graduated and taken her first steps in the real world, Strah is looking forward to her future in music. She’s currently in the studio recording an album. 

Be sure to check out her YouTube videos and look for her upcoming music.

Contact Megan Brown at [email protected]