Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Michael Connor, O’Hara’s new President. I was able to ask him about his previous experience at O’Hara, what it’s like to be back, and what he is looking forward to in the future.
Where did you go to college and what was your major?
“I went to Wheeling Jesuit University, in West Virginia. I majored in professional writing- at that time I had thoughts of going to law school, but I never went that route. My first job was in journalism, right out of college. I wrote for the Philadelphia Eagles Digest, which was a newspaper that covered the team, for one season. That was the only job I ever had in journalism and things changed after that.”
Wow, that’s definitely very different from what you’re doing now. What made you want to work at a Catholic school?
“Being an alum, I’ve always been involved on the outside with the school, helping out with raising money for the basketball program and things like that over the years. My older two kids went here and I have four kids who’ve all gone through Catholic school, so my wife and I have been Catholic school parents for over twenty years. This was a great opportunity to get back into the building and support the school that’s done a lot for me over the years.”
What activities or sports did you do while you were at O’Hara as a student?
“I played baseball and basketball for 4 years, and I was in the school play Hello Dolly my junior year (so I always say I’m thankful there weren’t video cameras around like there are now!). Other than that, I was involved in Operation Santa Claus, CSC, so, pretty active.”
What has your experience been like being back at O’Hara? Do you think things have changed significantly?
“It’s a lot different! I think any of the teachers or staff that were here in the 80s, and even 90s, will tell you how quiet it seems now- partly because of the pandemic with so few of us here. My graduating class had over 900 and when I was here we had over 3600 in the school… so in that sense it was a lot different here. In the sense of the atmosphere and how much people enjoyed being here, everybody getting along, though, that really hasn’t changed; it’s still a great place to go to school.”
What has been your favorite thing about working as the President of O’Hara?
“Really getting to interact with all the students. I’ve been a long-time volunteer coach of CYO basketball and Little League baseball; I’ve always enjoyed helping young people develop and mature to become leaders. For me, that was the most positive thing coming into the job. I love being down where everyone is coming into the building in the morning, just to see everybody and try to interact with the students as much as I can.”
Do you have anything you’re really looking forward to? Any big plans for the future?
“On top of the list would be trying to replace the turf in the stadium. We’ve also talked about developing some sort of fieldhouse down in that area as well as developing the Media Center upstairs, and working on some of the labs. Those are probably the big ticket items.”
Last question: if you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
“Looking back I think the biggest thing you learn as you get older is, one, to try to get better every day at something, and two, keep an open mind. By that, I mean your life is going to take you in all sorts of different directions. Like I mentioned, I got out of college thinking “I’m going to be a sports writer” and a year and a half later I wasn’t even in that field anymore- I never worked in that field again. At one point I thought I was going to be a lawyer and the road took me into sales and marketing and eventually the road brought me back to O’Hara. So, really keep an open mind and continually develop all your skills, having confidence that you’re gonna end up where you’re supposed to end up at some point.”
At first, I was a little nervous about interviewing the President of O’Hara, but Mr. Connor was so nice and very open about his life and experiences at the school. He clearly cares about O’Hara and its future, and he knows what it’s like to be a Delco resident and student. We even discovered a shared love for In-N-Out burgers! Overall, I really enjoyed talking with him and I’m very excited to see what the future of O’Hara holds under the guidance of our new President.
Written By: Haley Garecht ’22