5 Famous Writers You Didn’t Know Went to Community Colleges

famous writers

Octavia Butler

Author of “Wild Seed”, this American writer was born in Pacadena, California. She is often called the “Grand Dame of Science Fiction” and has won numerous notable awards like: the Hugo Award in 1984 & 1985, a Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and a Best Novelette Award from Science Fiction Chronicle, among others. She was also the only science fiction writer to ever win the McArthur Genius Grant.

But before she became known worldwide, Butler went to and graduated from Pacadena Community College with a degree in Associate of Arts.

Rebecca Skloot

The writer of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, a New York Times bestseller, has been featured on numerous TV shows like CBS Sunday Morning, Fox Business News, and The Colbert Report. She was also named One of Five Surprising Leaders of 2010.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” won numerous awards, like the National Academies of Science Best Book of the Year award, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Best Young Adult Book award, the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Wellcome Trust Book Prize, and two Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year and Best Debut Author of the year.

It might come as a surprise to others that this highly acclaimed writer had quite a colorful school life. She had a hard time in high school, and then went to study at the Portland Community College, where she learned about Henrietta Lacks. This made her research about the woman’s life, leading to her now multi-awarded book.

Augusten Burroughs

Born “Christopher Richter Robison” in Pennsylvania, this fiction writer is best known for his “Running with Scissors”, a novel which became a publishing phenomenal.

He dropped out of school, and gained a GED when he saw 17-years-old. Then, when he was of legal age, he changed his name to “Augusten Burroughs”.

He enrolled in the Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts for a pre-med, but then dropped out, then settled in New York.

Laura Halse Anderson

Two of her books, “Speak”, and “Chains”, were National Book Award finalists, and she was honored with the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award for her “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature”.

Anderson has a few other books out, but she is well-known for her Young Adult and Children’s books.

She studied in Onondaga Community College before going to study in George Washington University in 1981.

John Grisham

It’s not a known fact that the international bestselling writer of legal thrillers had gone to a community college.

He published his first novel, “A Time to Kill” in 1989. It had a film adaptation and the success spawned more critically acclaimed bestsellers in the same genre.

Grisham wanted to become a basketball player, but his mother encouraged him to prepare for college. When he was older, he then went to Northwest Mississippi Community College.

He went to three different colleges before completing a degree. He got an accounting degree, then went to become a tax lawyer, but changed his mind and decided to pursue general civil litigation. In the end, he graduated with a Juris Doctor degree in 1981.

Although many notable celebrities and historical figures are remembered for graduating from Ivy League schools, community colleges should not be underestimated as they also produce noteworthy celebrities and public figures.

Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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