Faces of the Open University

By making higher education available to all segments of Israel’s population the Open University has helped hundreds of thousands of people improve their lives and contribute positively to Israel society. Every successful student has a story. Here are a few of them.

It’s been smooth sailing for Uri Cohen once he earned his degree at Sea. Uri studied for his Bachelor’s degree in management and economics while working as a sailor, and submitted his assignments whenever the shipped docked. He went on to earn his MBA at the OUI and today manages a department at Pelephone. “Every student has his or her own story and talents,” he says. “In my case, the Open University made it possible for me to stidy and gave me special motivation, self-confidence, as well as the tools to move from nothing to management.”
Dr. Amnon Shreibman, Open University Graduate #2. An engineer, Dr. Shreibman was a teacher when he began taking courses at the Open University in 1976. He had not heard about the Open University until he saw a small advertisement in a local newspaper: “Registration Beginning for Courses to be Given by the Open University”. Five years later, he graduated. And, thirty-five years later, Dr. Shreibman continues to receive mail (now, electronically) from the Open University and not about his courses, but rather from the Friends of the Open University and the Alumni Association.
Professor Shalom Ratzabi found all university gates closed to him. Today, Professor Ratzabi enjoys an international academic career. He teaches intellectual history at Tel Aviv University, is a member of the scientific committee of Yad Yitzhak Ben Zvi and is the editor of the writings of Martin Buber that will be published in Germany. Professor Ratzabi’s background is a colorful one. From a Lithuanian yeshiva to writing poetry, when he was 30 years old he realized that what he really wanted to do was combine his two loves — reading and writing, and the only way to do that was to have a career in academia. But, all universities were closed to him — he had never finished his matriculation exams nor had he graduated from high school. All doors were closed, except for the Open University, where he received his undergraduate degree in social sciences. He then went on to receive a master’s degree, and later on a doctorate from Tel Aviv University.
 Yuval Harpaz, from tour guide to brain researcher. Since high school, Yuval dreamed of doing brain research. But his low matriculation scores prevented him from fulfilling this dream. Many years later while helping his visually-impaired wife, Ronit, with her psychology and sociology studies at the Open University, Yuval’s appetite for studies grew, and he applied to Tel Aviv University and Bar Ilan University. Both turned him down. But, the Open University accepted him and by the summer of 2005 he finished his studies (while still helping Ronit with her studies and their newborn twins). One year later he submitted his thesis, and, following his successful studies at the Open University, was accepted on a direct track to his doctorate in brain research studies at Tel Aviv University. Now, Yuval is finishing up his doctorate, working at Bar Ilan University and planning to do a post-doctorate.
 Halah Fuad Shiti, from high school biology teacher to vice-president of a medical supplies company. Halah will never forget the individualized attention she received as a master’s student in biological thought. “This is the largest university in the country — but each student is treated as an individual.” From the moment that Halah came to the decision that she wanted to advance beyond high school teaching, she knew two things. One, is that she would need a master’s degree. Two, that she would go to the Open University. Perhaps she will be a university instructor, as she wanted, but in the meantime, she is busy with the family company she helped found — 3H.F.S., Ltd — which imports and markets medical equipment and cosmetics.
Daphy Conis chose the Open University for all the right reasons. Daphy was already familiar with the course material on brain studies, having read it during her army service. She was working two jobs and had little time for classroom attendance. And, for ten years she suffered from anorexia. She also chose the Open University because she knew that, eventually, she wanted to teach university students. Today, Daphy is completing her doctorate, and is a lecturer at the Open University.
Dr. Dana Moskowitz finished her undergraduate degree at the Open University before she completed high school. It was at the Open University that Dana began her studies in computer science theory — which she teaches today — and also learned “how to learn.” Since earning her undergraduate degree from the Open University, she has gone on to earn a master’s degree in computer science from Tel Aviv University, a doctorate from the Weizmann Institute and a post-doctorate at Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Studies. Now, she is a senior lecturer at MIT.

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