Alexander Sklarz (’22), a.k.a. Alex, is doing an amazing job leading ClarkU Hillel through the pandemic, especially through the Jewish High Holidays. In addition to being President of Hillel, he is also on the Clark University Players Society (CUPS) E-board and works as a writing consultant and tutor in the Writing Center on top of taking all of his classes! He’s a kind, recognizable face on campus and an amazing friend to have.
Scarlet: Hi Alex. Thanks for meeting with me, and congratulations on being nominated for Clarkie of the Week! Do you want to start by telling us a little about yourself?
Alex: I’m a junior at Clark majoring in political science and minoring in history. I love theater, classic rock music, and basically anything related to the arts. When I’m not at Clark, I’m at home baking – or at least trying to – and watching old movies with my parents, my sister, and my 14-year-old corgi, Cinnamon.
Scarlet: Why did you choose Clark University?
Alex: Honestly, it took some time for Clark to grow on me. I did not quite feel an “instant” connection. In fact, I had applied to 13 different schools and did not come to a decision until April of my senior year of high school. After spending an open house weekend on campus, getting to meet all types of students, having interesting conversations, and learning about the academic programs, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I don’t want to leave.” That basically sealed the deal for me.
Scarlet: How has your experience been at Clark so far? What’s your favorite part?
Alex: My experience at Clark has been great. I’ve been able to take lots of different classes to figure out what I’m most interested in. I’ve become a leader in multiple student organizations. My favorite thing about being at Clark has been meeting so many people who just value me for who I am. I think everyone here has such unique identities and sets of traits that they bring to the table, and I think that Clarkies really try to both find their own paths and support their peers on their journeys along the way.
Scarlet: As a junior, you still have some time to think about this, but what do you want to do after Clark?
Alex: I have a lot of different ideas about what I’ll potentially do after Clark that I’ve yet to narrow down. I’ve thought about entering politics, teaching, management, and other fields. Though I’m not sure about my specific career path yet, the one thing I know is that I want to remain civically engaged and continue to pursue the social justice issues that I care about while helping others to do the same.
Scarlet: That’s awesome! You were nominated as Clarkie of the Week for your involvement throughout campus. What made you want to be involved in so many different aspects on campus?
Alex: I wanted to get involved on campus simply to get to know people. Hillel has been a real highlight of my college career because it [has] allowed me to both be a part of and work to strengthen the Jewish community on campus. CUPS, on the other hand, has kind of been my escape that allows me to creatively express myself through performing. Beyond clubs, I also love my job in the Writing Center because it makes me feel like I get to help people be the best writers that they can be and hopefully lead them to success. Being involved with all these different parts of campus has reminded me that my college years should be about a life I build for myself — not just academics.
Scarlet: Do you have a favorite part of each of your clubs?
Alex: My favorite part of Hillel has been the connections that I’ve made with the greater Worcester and Boston Jewish communities. I’ve met so many communal and organizational leaders who have helped me in my work, and I truly wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so had I not been in Hillel. My favorite part of CUPS has been getting to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work as a producer on the E-Board. Even though I don’t always have the time to actually be in a show, working with the E-Board and managing certain elements of every production still allows me to keep theater in my life.
Scarlet: Is there one favorite memory that you have?
Alex: I can’t pinpoint this to just one, but my favorite memories would have to be all of Hillel’s Shabbat dinners. Though we obviously haven’t been able to have them this semester, I really miss the Friday night dinners when we would all gather in the conference rooms and sing and laugh and pray together. While I was on Hillel’s E-Board, I made it my goal to sit with or at least to meet new people every week. I would always take some laps around the room to greet people at every table, whether they were returners or first-timers, and talk to them about their lives and what brought them to Hillel. It was always so meaningful to see the community we created every week.
Scarlet: How are you navigating/ coping with the pandemic personally?
Alex: I’m trying to engage with good wellness practices. I’ll admit, I haven’t done much of that this semester — between my classes and work and extracurriculars, I’ve had very little downtime. Over the summer, however, I started praying, meditating, and practicing yoga on a regular basis, and I look forward to getting back on track once the stress of this semester winds down.
Scarlet: How about within your clubs?
Alex: In my clubs, I’ve recognized that the best way for us to function is to make sure everyone is taking care of themselves. I think we’ve been really successful at Clark with having a good mix of virtual and in-person events that allow people to be engaged, but I also keep in mind that these days, everyone could use a break sometime.
Scarlet: What advice would you have for other students?
Alex: My advice for other students would be to make a name for yourself here. At Clark, you can really become a big fish in a small pond. Joining an E-Board, getting involved with community service opportunities, or otherwise being in positions of leadership is super empowering and can teach you some great ways to make connections with the community around you.
Scarlet: And lastly, what are you looking forward to after the pandemic?
Alex: I am most looking forward to traveling again. I feel lucky to have even been able to be on campus this semester, but it’s very hard to be confined when there are so many safety-related logistics to take care of. After the pandemic, I hope to take advantage of spending more time in Boston and go on some larger-scale trips with friends and family.