Clarkie of the Week: Rena Zisser 


Photo Courtesy of Deborah Gerofsky

William Schechter, Contributing Writer

Rena Zisser (’24) is kind, funny, and one of my best friends at Clark University. Her photography and graphic design skills are some of the best out there! Coming from New York, Rena has found her home away from home and has greatly enjoyed her time at Clark. Rena sat down with The Scarlet to discuss life at Clark during the COVID-19 pandemic and photography, her biggest hobby and possible career path.

Scarlet: Hello Rena, it’s William with The Scarlet. Let’s jump right into it. Tell us a little about yourself, just who you are, where you’re from.

Rena: Okay cool, I’m Rena, I’m a first year student at Clark if you couldn’t tell by where I’m living (Wright hall). I’m from Westchester, New York and went to White Plains where I took many photography classes and computers arts classes.

Scarlet: And you also took pictures of your high school’s sports teams?

Rena: Yes I did take pictures of the sports at my highschool for a year and a half, end of junior year and all of senior year.

Scarlet: So how did you find Clark and what made you choose Clark over other schools?

Rena: Well actually I heard of Clark because my brother was applying five years ago. He toured Clark, really liked it. Didn’t end up going here but when I was applying my dad thought it was a good idea to tour here too and the second that I saw campus just from my car out on main street I was like I need to go here now, like I need to be here right now. Two weeks later applied ED (early decision) got in, very happy here.

Scarlet: Applied ED so your heart was really sold on Clark.

Rena: Oh yeah definitely.

Scarlet: How has your experience at Clark been so far? Like school work, academics, social life, and extracurricular activities.

Rena: Yeah so I love Clark. I was actually very nervous at the beginning and like before moving in but the community that we have here at Clark is just so welcoming and open that it was very easy to feel at home.

Scarlet: I totally agree.

Rena: So far the biggest extracurricular I’m doing is Challah for Hunger, which I actually designed their new logo which was really cool. We meet bi-weekly on Wednesdays, super super fun, some good challah that we just sold. I might be starting my own club next semester which is getting in the works, exciting things!

Scarlet: Obviously you’re a first year so you still have plenty of time, but what if anything do you have in mind for your time after Clark?

Rena: That’s a really good question! It really just depends on where I decide to go through the arts. If I turn towards the music/technology side it will probably be sound engineering live performances if/when we have them because of COVID, possibly Broadway if it’s back, live concerts, working at venues and stuff like that. If I go the more graphic design or photography route, obviously working with sports photography and graphic design for music or photography. I think graphic design will be a part of it no matter what route I decide to take.

Scarlet: I feel like this next question is kind of obligatory given the current situation and it’s probably not the most fun thing to talk about, but how has the Coronavirus impacted your life, both academically and socially. What do you look forward to most once things get back to “normal” whatever that may be?

Rena: Socially it just made me more anxious, especially with coming to college and being really independent all the sudden, having thoughts like “is this okay” and “should I be going to dinner with these people” stuff like that. Over time I’ve had to make and add my own rules to the base of rules Clark already has in place. Their guidelines have been really helpful for the COVID stuff. School work wise, because of that anxiety of being around others, it has given me more time to do my homework instead, so in that sense it’s actually been helpful. Just like more time to look over things before they’re done. 

Scarlet: Well that’s a glass half full way of looking at the current situation!

Rena: Right! I try to look at things like that. As for the second part of your question, I’m looking forward to having games to take pictures of. With COVID clearly games aren’t running like normal so I’m looking forward to having somewhat of a “normal” schedule for shooting games.

Scarlet: Okay so kinda linked to that, what advice would you give to high school seniors, soon to be college freshmen in general but also specifically with COVID-19.

Rena: That’s a very good question, I’d say don’t be afraid to be yourself. I mean I know everyone says that but college is the one place where you actually fully get a new start, pretty much nobody knows you, especially in the beginning everyone wants to make friends so don’t be afraid to reach out to people. Also if you’re struggling in a class reach out to your professor, they want to help you, they want you to succeed so don’t be afraid to reach out to them. In terms of COVID I’ve noticed that professors are more forgiving with things like late work because they want to help you but they also understand the mental strain that COVID does take on you.

Scarlet: I couldn’t have said it better myself, definitely reach out to people! Moving on, you were nominated for Clarkie of the week because of your amazing photography skills, what got you interested in photography in the first place?

Rena: That’s another good question, growing up being dyslexic, expressing myself through words and writing and reading was never the way I would go because it was such a struggle. So I found myself drawn to the arts through music and photography.  Once I got to high school we had a dark room and three different photography classes you could take, and just something about the teacher and the environment just really got me fully invested in photography. One day my friend said I should go to their game and I was like I’m working in the dark room but I’ll be right over and my teacher said to me “why don’t you just take pictures of the game?” and I was like that’s so smart, so my first game I ever took pictures of was on my cell phone. I just pulled out my Iphone and they were horrible photos but I was sitting at home looking at them and thought this could be something so I impulsively bought a five hundred dollar camera and two lenses and the next game I was down there running up and down the field having a good time. It’s also a really fun way I noticed to meet new people, I didn’t get involved in playing sports but meeting all these people that I never would have met or been friends with, especially in a big school, was really fun.

Scarlet: That’s a great story! I love the humble beginnings of taking pictures on your phone, we all have to start somewhere. Is there anything about sporting events that draws you in and makes you want to take pictures of them?

Rena: There’s just something about it, like when you get that shot, the celebration shot or the perfect goal or something like that where you look at it and all you can do is smile, like it just gives you joy. One of the first games I ever took pictures of and it was a penalty kick and they made it and then the whole team just stormed the field onto that player and that series of shots were just amazing. Looking at the pictures on my laptop later on, scrolling through them is what I was so drawn to.

Scarlet: You know me being a huge sports fan I can just think of so many iconic pictures throughout sports history and it’s so cool that you’re following in those footsteps in a sort of way. Do you plan on trying to take pictures of sporting events at Clark?

Rena: I would love to do that, that was actually one of the things that was so important to me when I was looking at other schools and I asked them, like the athletic director and some of the coaches, and it’s just something I knew I would do no matter where I went. Meeting some of the sports people around campus, they are so chill and so nice and I would love to work with them. It would be so much fun.

Scarlet: What else do you like to do besides photography? I know you mentioned graphic design earlier so maybe tell us a little about that.

Rena: So actually my girlfriend got me into it over quarantine, I would do things here and there and it would all look so bad and I was on facetime with her and she showed me what would become my current logo for my photography company and I was just like “how do you do that?”. We sat down for hours and she taught me everything and if I’m working with someone and I show them a few designs and they say “oh yeah that one is perfect,” having that feeling of giving them their product is such a good feeling and makes me want to work harder and get better.

Scarlet: Okay last question! Where can we find you and your fantastic pictures online, whether it’s through social media or a website?

Rena: Yeah, so my social media is @officiallyphotography_ and sometime in the winter we’re going to have a finished website come out at 

Scarlet: Well that’s all I have for you today, thanks so much for doing this!

Rena: No problem! Thank you, it was a ton of fun!

Here is a link to Rena’s photography account: