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Jan 28 2018
by Mia Martins

7 Celebrities Who Went to Community College

By Mia Martins - Jan 28 2018

Whoever said college is the best four years of your life was wrong — sometimes, it's the best two. While community college is just as viable and respectable a choice as any four-year university,  higher education is often unfortunately accompanied by, well, higher-class snobbiness. Here, seven celebrities prove that you don't need to attend Harvard to find success (no shade, Natalie Portman!).

1. Tom Hanks

Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr Creative Commons

Let's start with the one that made my jaw drop. Tom Hanks went to Chabot College? As in, the community college my high school hosted our yearly marching band competition at? If I had known I was walking across hallowed ground, I would've been a lot more enthused during the long hours of practice leading up to the competition. I hadn't just been standing on a community college football field — I'd been (possibly) retracing Tom Hanks' legendary footsteps. Ah, hindsight is 20/20. But for Hanks, his views on the values of community college and the impact of Chabot haven't changed: "That place made me what I am today."

2. Steve Jobs


Another surprise to me, given that I'd just assumed Steve Jobs had attended some prestigious university and then dropped out of it, his genius too large to be confined by ivory walls, a la the Zuck. And while Jobs did drop out of Reeds College, he also spent some time at DeAnza, another community college near and dear to my Silicon Valley heart. Next time I get caught up in the Bay Area politics of education, I'll remind them that Steve Jobs took classes everywhere from DeAnza to Stanford, and he turned out more than okay. 

3. Chris Pratt

Wikimedia Commons

Just as Parks and Recreation's Andy sampled classes at Pawnee Community College before eventually landing on (and passing!) a women's studies course, Chris Pratt also engaged in a stint at a community college. Though he may not have had as favorable an experience as Andy, it's still great to know that everyone's favorite lovable goofball/dinosaur tamer/intergalactic hero started off just like many others. 

4. George Lucas

Wikimedia Commons

Though he went on to graduate from USC's renowned film program, George Lucas began his schooling at Modesto Junior College. Just like the fiction stories he learned to carefully craft, Lucas' tale of higher education has all the elements necessary for a compelling narrative: a sympathetic protagonist (Lucas) encounters a complication (in his case, a car accident that shattered his race car-driving dreams) that prompts an action (enrolling in community college) and ends in a satisfactory resolution (eventual transfer to USC). So if you're headed to community college...*insert obligatory joke about the force being with you here.*

5. Halle Berry

Wikimedia Commons

The first African-American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, Halle Berry also studied broadcast journalism at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland before moving on to pursue her dream of acting full-time. No doubt those broadcast classes helped her gain experience for being poised on screen. Just think: by going to community college, you too could be on your way to making history. 

6. Eileen Collins

Wikimedia Commons

Speaking of history, did you know that the first woman to command a space shuttle took classes in math and science at community college before later majoring in math? It's okay to follow your passions even when you aren't sure what specific career your major is applicable to. Collins admits, "I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do." Well, she certainly found her calling. Be like her and aim for the stars (literally, if you're so inclined). 

7. Guy Fieri

Wikimedia Commons

I must conclude with the most starling revelation of all: the knowledge that Guy Fieri attended not only one, but two, California community colleges. Consider me SHOOK. Between the hair and the memes, I'd assumed he'd gone to college somewhere foreign yet uniquely American, like New Jersey, not College of the Redwoods. I just can't picture him among Northern California's serene landscape. But what do I know? Even Flavortown had to start somewhere. 

So if you're headed to community college, take comfort in the fact that you're in very good company. Whether you dream of conquering space, making entertainment history, building a business or simply traveling around the country eating food, nothing is out of your reach. 

Lead Image Credit: Pixabay

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Mia Martins - University of San Francisco

Mia Martins is a freshman and Media Studies major at University of San Francisco. You can find her reviewing TV shows under the handle @miaandmedia on Instagram.

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