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Local Couple Invests in Students with New Scholarship Fund

Dr. McCall, Debbie Stark, Treg Stark, Dr. Adams, and Andy Harper
September 25, 2023

A retired Marion Technical College dean and her husband are investing in supporting students and second chances. The Debbie and Treg Stark Scholarship Fund prioritizes applicants who are formerly incarcerated and those majoring in business and IT.

“Reducing recidivism means they end up not going back to their old habits and networks. Education lets them ease back into communities. They can get jobs and build new networks. It helps them contribute positively to the community,” said Debbie (Caserta) Stark of Marion.

Dr. Adams and Debbie Stark

Both Debbie and Treg Stark have taught at Marion Technical College and at the local prisons. Despite having retired from Marion Tech, Debbie is still teaching a few classes each year.

“A student told me, ‘You don’t treat me like an inmate. You treat me like a student,’” Treg said.

Debbie Caserta grew up in Marion across from Edison Junior High School on the west side of Marion. Her mother, Peggy Caserta, is now 94 years old and still lives in Marion. Her father, Chris Caserta, was a veteran of World War II. Debbie graduated from Marion Catholic High School.

“I liked growing up in Marion,” Debbie said.

Caserta worked at Marion General hospital as a nurse aide. She went to The Ohio State University at Marion for two years and then transferred to the main campus to earn a bachelor’s degree in medical communications. She also met her future husband, Treg Stark, here when he asked her to dance. Treg is a graduate of Harding High School.  They have been married for 51 years and have one daughter and one granddaughter.

They both eventually entered the IT industry. Treg earned an associate degree from CTI (Now Columbus State Community College.) They moved to New Jersey. Both worked at Princeton University in the IT field. There, Debbie earned a master’s degree from Rider University. After more than 21 years in the garden state, they elected to return home.

They have taught at the local prisons for 20 years.

“It’s the experience working with these men and giving them second chances. We always encourage them to get their degrees. Don’t stop at a certificate!” Debbie said.

Debbie also worked with a local deputy warden, Rev. Hugh Daley, to start a Toastmasters Club inside North Central Correctional Institution 18 years ago. The club helps members practice and polish public speaking skills as well as build confidence for class presentations and future job interviews. The Starks see this scholarship as another tool to help them improve their lives.

“This is an investment in Marion’s future,” Treg said. “It makes you feel proud to give back.”

The choice of Marion Tech was clear.

“Marion Tech’s always been so supportive of the underserved. The support to inmates has never faltered. I don’t think Marion Tech has ever lost sight of that,” Debbie said.

Graduation ceremonies were held this May at both Marion Correctional Institution and North Central Correctional Complex. In the past, Treg has served as a guest speaker as they celebrated their certificates and their new directions.

“About 80% of these men are the first generation of their families to attend college,” Debbie said. “At the commencement ceremonies, the parents and families are just ecstatic. It means so much to them.”

Andy Harper

“Being a college student is something all people, but especially those in prison or on parole, can be proud of,” said Andy Harper, president of the Marion Technical College Foundation.

Others found the Starks’ generous donation matches their long history of teaching and supporting students from all backgrounds.

“Debbie spent 20 years working to help Marion Tech students succeed. It’s awesome that a retiree chooses this way to support future students,” said Mike Stuckey, director of the Marion Technical College Foundation.

For a full list of scholarships or to donate to increase the Stark Scholarship Endowment, go to

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