15 Celebrities Who Went to Community College

Arnold Schwarzenegger-Santa Monica College

We know that success comes in all shapes and sizes. Famous billionaires were once college students who were unable to complete their degrees.

There are actors who went to Ivy League schools to study the sciences or business. We’ve also seen famous athletes who found their luck when they played for their college.

There are many expensive private colleges in the country, so others are opting to try their luck in community colleges, which don’t lack experience and education.

There are many celebrities, film directors, screenwriters, and musicians who went to a community college and succeeded in their chosen fields. Others were lucky and got their big breaks. Some found their calling during college when they realized what they wanted to pursue.

What makes a community college different from other higher education schools?

Homeland Security’s “Study in the States” describes a community college as:

sometimes called junior colleges, are two-year schools that provide affordable postsecondary education as a pathway to a four-year degree

The page states that community colleges aren’t popular in other countries, but are slowly gaining traction. The schools are smaller and are non-residential, but Princeton Review says that such colleges have amazing advantages people should consider.

Community colleges also allow students to graduate in a shorter amount of time, to receive a diploma, to earn credits, and to work while studying.

So here are some of the most famous people in the country who went to a community college.

what is a celebrity


Walt Disney

Wal Disney- Metropolitan Junior College

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Walter Elias Disney is, of course, well known for being the father of films like Cinderella, Frozen, and many more. He was an American producer, director, and animator.

He was born in 1901 in Tripp Avenue. As a child, he loved to draw. He was even commissioned to draw the house of a neighbor. Disney and his sister went to Park School in 1909. Two years later, his family moved to Missouri, where he grew up.

At Benton Grammar School, where Disney studied, he met a student who introduced him to musical shows and motion pictures. This piqued his interest and sparked what would become a worldwide enterprise decades into the future.

He worked as a paper boy so that he could take weekend classes at the Kansas City Art Institute so he could study cartooning. During his high school years at McKinley High, Disney was the school paper’s cartoonist.

He continued to study the arts, this time at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts during the night. When war broke out, he wanted to enlist in the army, but was too young.

He eventually joined the Red Cross as a driver. He still drew cartoons, his works appearing in the Stars and Stripes newspaper.

He went to Metropolitan Junior College in Missouri, but started working on his art career and tried to build a company with fellow artist Ub Iwerks.

Together they worked in the motion picture and animation industry, and eventually introduced Mickey Mouse to the world in 1928.

James Dean

James Dean-Santa Monica College

image source: amc.com

James Byron Dean was one of the country’s most iconic actors and teen heartthrobs, especially in his roles in Rebel without a Cause, East of Eden, and Giant. He was born in Marion, Indiana.

In high school, he was a popular baseball and basketball player, and he also studied drama and public speaking.

He first studied at Santa Monica College to take up pre-law, but then he went to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for the same course.

But he only stayed in the course for one semester, then started studying drama. There, he performed as Macbeth, and eventually he dropped out in 1951 to pursue acting his acting career.

He died at age 24 due to a vehicular accident, but was awarded Best Actor posthumously.

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood-Los Angeles City Community College

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Clinton Eastwood Jr. was born in San Francisco, California in 1930. He became a superstar when he starred in films like The Man with No Name and Dirty Harry.

He enrolled in Oakland Technical High School where his teachers encouraged him to join drama and theater. Eastwood declined and did many odd jobs like lifeguard, firefighter, and grocery clerk.

Eastwood studied at Seattle University, but had to join the army sometime later, where he was a swimming instructor for the US Army. He met someone who tried to get him some acting roles, but Eastwood was very stiff and had no professional drama experience.

He went to Los Angeles City Community College to study business administration, but then he got a break when he appeared in a TV show, “Rawhide”, but he was propelled to the spotlight when he was cast in the film Dirty Harry.

Years later, he starred in many blockbuster films, and was awarded honorary degrees from the University of the Pacific, and the University of Southern California for an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

He also received another honorary degree from the Berklee College of Music.

George Lucas

George Lucas-Modesto Junior College

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Who doesn’t know George Walton Lucas? The famous director and producer of blockbuster hits as Star Wars and Indiana Jones was born in 1944 in Modesto, California.

He wasn’t always interested in films. At first, he wanted to be a racecar driver. He spent many of his high school days at garages and racing circuits. One day, while racing in the undergrounds rings, he nearly died in car accident. He lost interest in racing soon after.

He went to Modesto Junior College to study social sciences like anthropology and sociology in the 1960s. He also started to become interested in filmmaking. He dropped out of MJC and instead went to the University of South California to study at the School of Cinematic Arts.

It was there that Lucas became good friends with Steven Spielberg. He graduated in 1967, but after an unsuccessful attempt to join the army, he went back to USC for a postgraduate degree in film production.

He directed a short film, which won first prize at a national competition. Soon, he was awarded a scholarship by Warner Bros., which set Lucas at a path he is now highly known for.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks-Chabot College

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Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in 1956 in Concord, California. He was a shy teenager, who loved to read, and was occasionally clumsy, but was big-hearted even through troubling family times.

He went to  Chabot College so he could study theater, but only stayed for two years. After that, he studied at the California State University. He was invested in acting, and would often drive himself to see plays on works by Henrik Ibsen and Tennessee Williams.

While in college, he met Vincent Dowling who gave him an internship at the Great Lakes Theater Festival in Ohio.

Hanks eventually dropped out of college to pursue acting. At that time, he won a Best Actor award, given by the Cleveland Critics Circle for his performance as Proteus in a Shakespearean play.

Hanks started appearing in low budget films and plays in 1979. Soon, he was able to score lead roles in comedy “Splash”, romance “Sleepless in Seattle”, and drama “Philadelphia”, which won him a Best Actor Academy Award, his first in a long line of many.

Eileen Marie Collins

Eileen Collins-Corning Community College

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Collins was the first woman to become both a space shuttle commander and a space pilot. She was born in New York, and studied at Elmira Free Academy. Then, she went to Corning Community College, where she studied mathematics and scienceShe graduated from there with an associate degree in 1976.

She went on to study at Syracuse University. After graduating there in 1978, she pursued a master’s degree at Stanford University. She also took another master’s degree, this time in space systems management at Webster University.

There were four women selected to be part of the Undergraduate Pilot Training at an air force base in Oklahoma. Collins joined this group after her graduation at Syracuse. She also joined the US Air Force Academy, where she taught mathematics.

In 1990, she was the pilot of STS-63, and in 1999, she was the commander of STS-93.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin-North Idaho College

image source: washingtontimes.com

Sarah Louise Palin was born in 1964 in Idaho. She was mostly raised in Alaska, though, and she attended Wasilla High School, where she ran the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Her competitive spirit was already seen during her high school years, when she joined many teams in basketball, track and field, and even the school band.

She also joined and won the Miss Wasilla and Miss Alaska beauty pageant. She received a scholarship for her win at the latter.

Palin went to the University of Hawaii at Hilo, but then she transferred to Hawaii Pacific University for just one semester. She then went to North Idaho College in 1983.

Then, she went to study at the University of Idaho in Moscow in the next year. In the fall of 1985, she went to Matanuska-Susitna College

she eventually graduated from the University of Idaho in 1987 with a degree in journalism. Palin began work as sportscaster, and was eventually elected into Wasilla City Council in 1992.

In 2006, she became the youngest and first female governor of Alaska. Palin runs for the Republican, and has had mixed approval ratings among the people, although she is very popular for her strong opinions and active political campaigns.

Teri Hatcher

Teri Hatcher-De Anza College

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This American actress was born in Palo Alto, California. When she was very young, she took ballet lessons at a San Juan School of Dance.

Her family moved to Sunnyvale, where she spent most of her childhood. There she went to Fremont High School and De Anza College in Cupertino, where she studied mathematics and engineering.

She also enrolled in the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. There she studied acting, but then she eventually dropped out of college to pursue acting when she got a part in the TV show “The Love Boat”.

Although she had some movie roles, it wasn’t until she was cast as Lois Lane in “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” during the 1990s. The show became very popular, and after it ended in 1997, Hatcher was able to get a part in Tomorrow Never Dies as James Bond’s love interest.

In that same year, she was voted world’s sexiest woman by FHM readers.

She was able to secure roles in films like Spy Kids, Seinfeld, and finally Desperate Housewives, which won her Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger-Santa Monica College

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Schwarzenegger was born in 1947, and is most famously known for his role in “The Terminator”, which has become a hit movie franchise and action film classic.

He was born in Austria as Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger. When he was just a teenager, he decided to become a bodybuilder instead of a soccer player. He eventually started his career when he was just 17 years old.

He served in the Army when he was 18 years old, and he also won a body building contest for younger participants in Europe. He skipped his military training to do body building and was often a regular guest at their military prison.

Schwarzenegger eventually became famous in Europe for his built, and he was able to compete in the Mr. Universe in the United States. After training under the champion of the contest, Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Universe title when he was just 20 years old.

He competed in various contests in the US, and because of the immigration laws during that time, he might have become undocumented during this time.

Arnold took English classes at Santa Monica College then earned a degree in fitness and business from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in 1979.

Arnold officially became an American citizen in 1983. He has appeared in many successful movies from the 90s to the most recent Terminator sequel.

Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy-Nassau Community College

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Edward Regan Murphy was born in 1961 in Brooklyn, New York City. As a young child, he was already a comedian, and during his teenage years, he would write and perform his own comedic skits.

He eventually enrolled in Nassau Community College in New York before he became an actor. He became a stand-up comedian and released his self-named album. But then Murphy became a member of the Saturday Night Live, and he became insanely popular on national television.

In 1982, he appeared in 48 Hours, which became national hit. Two years later, he starred in his first solo-starring film “Beverly Hills Cop”, which earned $230 million. Its sequel, with Murphy reprising his role, went on to get $300 million worldwide.

Murphy has gone on to star in many films like Dr. Dolittle, Shrek, The Haunted Mansion, and more.

Halle Berry

Halle-Berry-Cuyahoga Community College

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Born Maria Halle Berry, she was born in 1966 in Cleveland, Ohio. When she was 5 years old, her name was legally changed to Halle Maria Berry. She went to Bedford High School, where she was a cheerleader, school paper editor, and prom queen.

She worked at a department store, then went to college at Cuyahoga Community College, where she studied broadcast journalism.

Berry joined many beauty pageants and was Miss Teen All-American in 1985 and Miss Ohio the following year.

She was the first African American to join the Miss World in 1986. In the late 1980s, Berry went to New York so she could pursue modeling, leaving her college studies behind, but because of lack of funds, she found herself living on the streets and sometimes in shelters.

But her luck turned when she was cast in a TV show set in New York. In 1999, she played Dorothy Dandridge in a biopic. The role won Berry several Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

She was the also first African American to win an Oscars as Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball.

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah-Manhattan Community College

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This famous rapper and actress was actually born Dana Elaine Owens in 1970. Her family lived in New Jersey, where she attended high school. She loved the name “Latifah”, when she read it in an Arabic book of names.

She studied at Borough of Manhattan Community College while also making a career in music. During this time, her first album “All Hail the Queen” had just sold over 40,000 copies.

Queen Latifah rapped about issues faced by African American women. After her rap albums, Latifah also sang songs in the jazz and soul genre. Aside from her music career, she was also an actor.

She got a part in a FOX sitcom in 1993. She also had her own talk show, “The Queen Latifah Show” that started in 1999. She went on to star in several successful films like “Chicago”, “Last Holiday”, and “Taxi”, among others.

She was the first female rapper to be nominated for an Academy Award.

Billy Crystal

Billy Crystal-Nassau Community College

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Actor William Edward Crystal was born in 1948 in New York. His father owned Commodore Music Store.

Crystal went to Long Beach High School, then Marshall University in Virginia on a baseball scholarship. Crystal was never able to study there, though, because the program was axed, so Crystal studied at Nassau Community College.

In the end, he graduated from New York University, where he had majored in film directing. One of his professors at the NYU’s school of fine arts was Martin Scorsese, an award-winning director.

In New York City, Crystal appeared in many productions, including “All in the Family”. He also joined Saturday Night Live in 1984. He still pursued music, and his single, “You Look Marvelous” hit the Billboard Hot 100.

He was nominated for a Golden Globe award when he starred in “When Harry Met Sally”. Crystal went on to star in other films and even provided the voice of Mike Wazowski in “Monsters, Inc.”

Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard-Mount San Antonio Junior College

image source: usatoday.com

Samuel Shepard “Steve” Rogers III was born in 1943 in Fort Sheridan, Illinois. His nickname was actually “Steve Rogers”. He didn’t take that nickname because it was the name of the first Captain America in Marvel Comics.

He went to Duarte California High School, then Mount San Antonio Junior College to study agriculture. He dropped out though, after only one year to pursue the arts.

Shepard began to appear in theater productions, taking the name “Sam Shepard”. After getting some awards for his dramatic performances, Shepard became a screenwriter and playwright. In fact, his play “Buried Child” won him the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979.

He also starred in films like Days of Heaven, Resurrection, The Right Stuff, and Blackthorn. Shepard has also contributed several documents to the University of Texas, Austin, and Texas State University.

Nolan Archibald

Nolan Archibald-Dixie Junior College

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Archibald was the former CEO of the Black & Decker Corporation, which manufactures power tools and home improvement products.

He was born in 1944, and when he was just 42 years old, he became the company’s CEO, the youngest one for a Fortune 500 Company.

He worked as CEO for twenty-four years before he retired in 2010. This successful businessman actually first went to Dixie Junior College and graduated there in 1996.

Archibald went on to graduate from Weber State with a bachelor’s degree and a Latin honor (cum laude), where he had also been Scholar Athlete of the Year.

He was a successful college basketball player and had played in NCAA competitions. He was, at one point, offered to play professionally for the Pittsburgh Pipers. But Archibald pursued an MBA from Harvard instead in 1970.

Archibald also received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from the South Virginia University in 2011.

Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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