Life & Play

Visionary on the Rise: 20-year-old Caitlin O’Hara is Changing Women’s Lives

Jordan Manfredi
June 2, 2016

Cohens Fashion Optical - Future Visionary - Feature - Caitlyn O'Hara
The Visionary On the Rise:
Caitlin O’ Hara is a global visionary in the midst of figuring out what to do after college. Juggling philanthropy and finals hasn’t stopped her from humbly and passionately helping people across the globe through work with global non-profit ENACTUS, and changing the lives of many.

What does the word visionary mean to you?

A visionary to me, is someone who sees beyond what is in front of them. Someone who can see not only what the world is but also all that it can be.

What single event made you a stronger person?

Going to Guatemala with ENACTUS, I was able to speak with so many wonderful women and to hear their stories. Hearing what they have been through and what they have overcome has made me a stronger person. Yet, what touched me the most was that they stood and cheered for us. They thanked us. But they are the ones who have made us stronger.

What most drives you in your philanthropy?

The women I work with in Guatemala. It is that simple. I want to do my best, to give them all that I can so that they too may make a difference in their worlds.

What was your most important contribution during your time abroad as a young visionary?

As simple as it sounds, our biggest contribution when we were abroad was working on product development and placing orders. Not only do we give the Mayan groups work with every order, but when we sell the products in the order, we are then providing their daughters with the opportunity to continue schooling, an opportunity many of them did not have.


What 3 adjectives best describe you?

Passionate, dependable, driven, or at least I like to think so!

Who has most inspired you?

The most inspirational people in my life are a group. Specifically, the group of young girls and women I met in Guatemala. As we talked with these women they told us one amazing story after the next about how hard they had worked, the sacrifices they had made and the hardships they had faced in order to attend school. They inspire me to overcome any obstacles I am faced with for they have already faced so much more than I ever will.

What activities do you find most rewarding?

Activities of service. This world is so big and yet individuals as small as you or I have the ability to change someone else’s life. To know that I am making a difference, nothing could be more rewarding than that.

Do you have a mentor?

As opposed to having one mentor, I would say that I try to take advantage of all those I am lucky enough to learn from. I will never know it all and there will always be more to learn.

Best advice?

Charles Bukowski said, “Find what you love and let it kill you.” While it may not be your normal set of advice, it is so important to love what you do. All of the organizations I am involved in take a lot of time, they are hard work but I love them and cannot imagine my life without them.

Your best day ever?

Going to Guatemala and meeting the women who inspire me to keep doing the work I do.

If you had $10,000 to give away, what would you do with it?

I would give it to educational programs either ones I work with like ENACTUS or one like Barefoot College.

What is your opinion on sustainability and how can it be improved upon on a global level?

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. If sustainability is taught to the world, not just practiced for large groups by a few, we will be able to improve sustainability.

Favorite book and song?

My favorite book is October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman.

If you could change 1 thing about the world, what would it be?

Opportunity. If we were to give people the same opportunities no matter where they come from the world would be a completely different place.

What makes you feel empowered to make a difference in this world as a young visionary?

I have been lucky in my life. I have had the opportunity to go to school, to challenge myself and to make my own choices. Not everyone has such luxuries. Each day I remind myself just how lucky I am and in doing so I reaffirm my beliefs that I can make a difference.


Based on your experiences, if there was a training program that could better prepare you for the future, what would they teach you?

There is so much to be taught, so much to learn. I would love to learn how to give more fully, how to be ok with having less than expected and how not to be afraid of that.

As a global visionary, how do you see the future of the world in the next 10-20 years?

I hope to see a world with more social entrepreneurship, with more social awareness and human understanding.

Paint us a picture of you life in 10-20 years.

It is my dream to help those who the world won’t listen to. I hope to one day to practice human rights or child advocacy law.

What is 1 piece of advice or encouragement you would give to future young visionaries?

Simon Sinek said “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Life works in the same way. People will support why you do things so do what you believe in and people will believe in you.