Student, musician & event planner eyes future
It’s a warm August night in the small college town of California, Pennsylvania. Youth-driven energetic electric music wafts through the warm summer night air from the windows of Jozart Center for the Arts at 333 2nd St. while bands battle for recognition as best in the area, 2015.
Among the dancers reveling in the music is a lean blonde in braided pigtails, summer dress, and animal print socks. She is Cat Zisk – pre-med student, singer, songwriter, musician, and arranger of the entire event.
As Jozart’s Youth Director, Zisk organizes programming for high school and college age students who seek the supportive, friendly, and creative outlet offered by Jozart.
In addition to organizing Battle of the Bands for the past five years, Zisk created Calstock two years ago, also hosted by Jozart Center for the Arts.
“The first one was big,” recounts Zisk, “with four bands and seven artists. It’s crazy how awesome it was. The second one was scaled back a little, to five hours (from seven). It’s really cool to have a place people can come with their art and musical talent.”
Though Battle of the Bands and Calstock are the largest youth events Zisk organizes, she clarifies that youth programming for the center focuses on high school and college age people, and, she happily adds “people they know, and their people.”
While flyers and facebook provide advertising outlets for upcoming events, Zisk notes that “the best advertising is texting people you know.”
Zisk, herself an occasional performer at Jozart, began organizing events there before the venue became a non-profit arts center, and plays a vital role in its current vitality.
Carla Anderton, Jozart President, said of Zisk, “Cat is an extraordinarily talented, intelligent young woman. Her energy is infectious. Without her efforts at Jozart, there might not be a Jozart.”
Zisk’s efforts to bring in artists, performers, and bands result in the vital funds, and fun for patrons, that keep the doors open for another generation of performers.
“It’s always a pleasure to work with her to plan events,” Anderton said.
Zisk’s enthusiasm, bubbly personality, and intelligent organizational skills also stand to benefit her future patients. As an Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) pre-med student who graduates this May, her long-range plan is becoming an M.D., with a likely focus in neurology.
Unusual headaches in 9th grade resulted in Zisk undergoing multiple medical tests, along with visits to neurologists.
Zisk describes the headaches as “like the pins and needles you have when your arm fell asleep, only in my brain.”
While the neurologists were working on a cause, Zisk was doing her own research on the human brain, ultimately leading to her interest in science and neurology.
“If I’m going to learn a lot about something, I want to know everything about brains because they control everything,” Zisk said.
Zisk’s multiple talents in songwriting and music, available for enjoyment on her youtube channel (youtube.com/user/cats0mad0hats), endow listeners with a unique vocal style and “songs about science.”
Yet, Zisk says, “Having writing and the guitar is important. It’s nice to have an artistic outlet because the rest of my life is so academic.”
After graduation in the spring, Zisk has time off while her med school application and interview process proceeds, meaning there is opportunity to spend time in California, PA, and, importantly, Jozart.
“It was really important in high school life to go to Jozart; I made such good friends there,” Zisk said with a smile in her voice.