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Jul 14 2017
by Cassidy Jackson

5 Famous People You Didn’t Know Went to Northwestern University

By Cassidy Jackson - Jul 14 2017

Like most high schoolers, before I applied and committed to my prospective college (Northwestern University), I took a good ole tour of the campus. As I was walking out of the presentation hall, I moseyed past the esteemed alumni wall and I didn’t recognize 95 percent of the faces hung up. So, like anyone in my generation would do, I did some research and was able to pinpoint my top five favorite Northwestern alumni!

1. Most likely to be a college dropout success story: Zooey Deschanel.

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Degree: Performing Arts

Before she was the love interest in Elf or the crazed mockingbird killer in Failure to Launch (my fave!), Zooey Deschanel was a Wildcat ... sort of. She was a Wildcat if you count seven months of college as earning you alumnus status. Yet, how could I not include her?!? I mean, have you seen New Girl?! For her main character role as Jessica Day in the (beloved) New Girl series, she’s gone on to receive an Emmy nomination and three Golden Globe nominations. Film wise, she’s appeared in Almost Famous, (500) Days of Summer and Mumford. No matter if she was a Wildcat for one day or seven months, Deschanel will live on in my heart as a Wildcat. I need to believe that I’m connected to Deschanel in some way. Don’t burst my bubble!

2. Most likely to replace David Letterman: Stephen Colbert.

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Degree: Theater

We all know Stephen Colbert’s face, but did you know that Colbert was a Northwestern class of 1986 graduate? You probably didn’t! I know I didn’t! At Northwestern, Colbert was a key member of the improv group, No Fun Mud Piranhas. That group clearly came in handy as after college, as Colbert went on to host The Colbert Report, a right-winged comedy show, on Comedy Central. The Colbert Report quickly became Comedy Central’s highest ranking show, winning him and the network over eight awards. In 2014, The Colbert Report door closed and The Late Show door opened for Colbert. About three decades after being a Wildcat, Stephen Colbert is one of the most widely known faces out there! If anyone asks, “What celebrities went to Northwestern?" I’ll gladly reply, “Stephen Colbert” ... *hair flip*

3. Most likely to capitalize on women: Hugh Hefner.

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Degree: Sociology

As I was researching Northwestern alum, Hugh Hefner popped up, and I couldn’t help but smirk a little bit. I mean, when shifting through colleges' alums there’s always a wild card. In this case, there was a Wildcat wild card (see what I did there?). Anyway, Hugh Hefner attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for his bachelor's and moved onto Northwestern for graduate courses in sociology. With his degree, Hugh Hefner went on to create the men’s adult entertainment magazine, Playboy. What was originally sold out of his south side of Chicago home quickly grew into a multi-million dollar franchise. Now at 91 years old, Hugh is sitting at a net worth of $43 million. Not bad Hefner. Not bad.

4. Most likely to end up with Rachel Greene: David Schwimmer.

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Degree: Theater

Ahh... Ross! That’s all that ever comes to mind when the name David Schwimmer is brought up. Schwimmer just so happens to be a class of 1988 Northwestern graduate! In my head and heart, he will always live to be Ross Geller, but Schwimmer has gone on to do many other noteworthy films including but not limited to all three Madagascar films (a pure gem of my childhood) as the voice of Melman. He also just recently starred as Rob Kardashian in The People v. O.J Simpson: American Crime Story. I watched that series in about two blissful days (were those two days productive? Probably not...) and David Schwimmer was flawless!

5. Most likely to drop out of college to be a famous model: Cindy Crawford.

Wikimedia Commons

Degree: Chemical engineering

Similar to Zooey Deschanel’s story of pure success, Cindy Crawford dropped out of Northwestern freshman year to pursue modeling. Just think! The world could have easily missed the opportunity to be blessed with Crawford’s stunning looks. She could have easily stayed on the college track and become a chemical engineer! Yet, she didn’t and she jumped on the modeling scene, landing on Vogue’s cover in her first year of modeling (how?!). Crawford became one of the first models to have her own brand. She appeared in fitness videos, MTV’s House of Style and commercials! Go Crawford go!

Wow... Northwestern has produced some noteworthy alumni. Hopefully in the near future, you’ll see my beautiful face hanging on the Northwestern alumni wall! 

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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