Open Connections

I see myself in many of the young people [today]. I feel like [OC] was a great learning environment for me and it has come so far.

-Catherine Haas
, OC Alumna

Catherine Haas

OC Alumna

Catherine Haas

Reprinted from the OC Magazine, Fall, 2015


Catherine started attending OC at 9 years old at the original Bryn Mawr location.  Her parents had been involved at OC, helping with facilitating, and then decided to take her out of private school after 3rd grade so that they could attend OC and pursue homeschooling.  When asked about her transition from formal school to OC, Catherine remembers feeling encouraged to do things that she never thought to try before, things such as woodshop and hands-on science experiments.  At school, she either felt bored or left behind, whereas at OC there was room for everyone to move at their own pace.  


Catherine was able to pursue her interest in theater at OC and also attended Open Program, Thursday Tutorial, and after OC's move to Edgmont, Wednesday Tutorial.  She stayed at OC through her high school years.


The biggest impact that OC had on Catherine was her sense of independence and

passion.  OC gave her the platform and room to explore the things she wanted to learn about.  This became very helpful when she went to a small college that expected its students to take responsibility for their education.  From all her years at OC, knowing facilitators on a first name basis, she already had experience being a self-directed, independent learner.


Catherine graduated from OC and went directly to college at Sarah Lawrence in New York.  It is a traditional 4-year program but instead of majors, they have concentrations.  Fiction writing and film history were Catherine's concentrations.  She graduated in 2011 and went through a period of not knowing what to do with her life.  She worked in retail for a short time and then took an internship at City Paper.  In 2013, Catherine started a master's degree program in film history at Columbia University. Over the past year, she has held various internships. Interning for Cinadelphia, she has had the opportunity to write film reviews and movie blog posts.  At the Philadelphia Film Society, she has been helping with programming at their annual film festival. 


This fall (2015), Catherine was invited to facilitate a film analysis workshop in the Tuesday Shaping Your Life Program. "I was thrilled when Mike asked me because I've had the desire to run an informal seminar and share my passion for film with others."  Needing two more semesters to complete her Masters degree, Catherine is planning to return to graduate school at Columbia in the spring.  Once she graduates, she would love to stay involved in the film world through blogging, attending and helping with film festivals, and maybe facilitating more film  nalysis workshops.


When asked if there was anything that she would have wanted to change about her OC experience, she said, "No, but I wish I could be a young person there now because there are a lot more opportunities." Over the past ten years, OC has grown and offers more programs that Catherine finds exciting.  "I see myself in many of the young people.  I feel like it was a great learning environment for me and it has come so far.  I see young people so engaged in learning in unique ways at OC.  School isn't for everyone, and OC isn't for everyone, but for the hundreds of young people that OC is perfect for, I want to help support all of those people."