Five celebrities who found success – then went to university!

Five celebrities who found success – then went to university!

For many, university is the first step towards a successful professional career. However, for these five famous faces, they championed education for education’s sake and returned to or started a degree course years after they had reached the dizzying heights of celebrity.

Michael Jordan

Sportsman, NBA legend, star of Space Jam


Michael Jordan was drafted in 1984 by the Chicago Bulls, as the third pick of the first round. Prior to being drafted, Jordan had studied Cultural Geography at North Carolina while on a basketball scholarship. After spending two years in the NBA, Jordan returned to North Carolina during the off-season to complete his degree.

Emma Watson

Highest-Grossing Lead Actress in Hollywood

Emma, known for her portrayal of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movie series, took time out from her busy acting career to complete an English Literature degree at Brown University, graduating in 2014.

On her decision to go to university the same year she was named the highest-grossing lead actress of the decade, Watson said: “I was insistent on being normal and doing normal things.”

Steven Spielberg

Academy Award-winning Director

Steven Spielberg decided three Academy Awards, six Emmys and five honorary doctorates were just not enough. Following the success of his films E.T., Jaws and Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg, at age 55, returned to Cal State University 33 years after he had dropped out.

Spielberg went back to university after he promised his daughter, following her own graduation, that he would finally finish the degree course he began before her birth.

Natalie Portman

Academy Award-winning Actress

Natalie Portman began attending class at Harvard University in 1999 while she was filming the Star Wars trilogy, graduating with a degree in Psychology during 2003.

Portman returned to Harvard to give the commencement speech to the graduating class of 2015, telling the new graduates, “You are here for a reason. Sometimes, your insecurities and your inexperience may lead you to embrace other people's expectations, standards or values, but you can harness that inexperience to carve out your own path.”

Oprah Winfrey

Business woman, TV icon, one-woman tour de force

Oprah originally went to Tennessee State University, working a multitude of broadcast media jobs at the same time. Just one credit shy of completing her degree, Winfrey quit her studies in pursuit of professional success, becoming the star of her own syndicated national talk show and later nominated for an Academy Award.

When Tennessee State University invited her back to speak at the 1987 Commencement, Winfrey refused, saying she wanted to finish her degree first. Winfrey completed her coursework, handed in her final essay and got her degree – in Communications, no less.

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