10+ Times Fame Didn’t Stop Celebrities From Going Back to School to Continue Their Education
Once again, celebrities prove that they face the same troubles as all of us. Some of them may delay their education due to their working routine or for financial reasons. Others leave it to take care of their little kids. All in all, they admit things happen when they’re supposed to happen and prove that it’s never too late to chase and fulfil any of your precious dreams.
We at Bright Side have found 12 life-affirming stories that may inspire some of you to return to school and achieve a dream that began decades ago.
1. Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman was only 11 when she became famous for her role in Léon: The Professional. But she came from a serious, academic family where it was very important to be very literate and educated. So no matter how much work she’s got since, she managed to get a degree in psychology from Harvard in between jobs.
At some point, the actress even wanted to become a psychologist. But she preferred her acting career. Anyway, her academic background helped her to prepare for her most iconic roles. And she says she’s able to influence more people in her acting rather than being another therapist.
2. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal made his dream a reality and got a degree juggling the roles of athlete, student, and entrepreneur. He completed sixteen courses and just like many of us today, he mostly used satellite classrooms and video conferencing. And now he can proudly call himself “Dr. O’Neal.”
After graduating he thanked his professors and the university for helping him and thanked his mother, “who always stressed the importance of education”. He also added, “I’m smart enough to know that, even at my tender age, my pursuit of education is never finished.”
3. Brooke Shields
Shields has been acting and modeling since she was 12. But she always knew how important education is in each person’s life. So she decided to take a break and get an education. In 1987 she graduated from Princeton University with her bachelor’s degree in French literature.
She was very emotional when her daughter was about to go off to college. “My unique and extraordinary baby girl spreading her wings,” wrote Shields on her Instagram. “We are so proud of you. My baby is BEGINNING one of the most important adventures of her life to date.”
4. Jodie Foster
Foster was born a really gifted child. She learned to read at age three. Then attended a French-language prep school, which enabled her to act in French movies and dub herself in French-language versions of most of her works in English.
Her Alma mater was Yale University, where she graduated in 1985. After that, she made the most important transition in her career. She left her child star life behind and became a mature actress, taking more and more serious roles. But still didn’t forget about her beloved university and received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 1997.
5. Dakota Fanning
The Twilight actress has been a student at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study in Soho since 2011. She attended it till 2014 and majored in women’s studies, with a focus on the portrayal of women in film and culture.
Due to her strict schedule, she had to do independent studies, take classes, and ’sort of come in and out.’ They were very understanding and supportive of that, which really worked for the actress. Certainly, it was very hard to take all the pressure, but she tried to do her best and never gave up on finishing the course.
6. Tyra Banks
Banks graduated from Harvard Business School in 2012 where she took a course in management, business and leadership. She planned to use her knowledge to help her company to grow, saying “I needed the best. So I went to the best.”
But the supermodel didn’t stop at that and went even further, co-teaching a course on credit and maintaining a personal brand at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. She instructed students and shared her knowledge on how to use social media to communicate their strengths and endure all the ups and downs of being a business leader.
7. Mayim Bialik
Perhaps Mayim Bialik was the only actor on the set of The Big Bang Theory who really understood what she was talking about. This was due to her having a Ph.D. in neurosciences under her belt, which she got a very hard way. She was raising her son at the time, so she literally wrote her thesis breastfeeding, laying down, and typing with one hand.
Her background in the sciences helped her play Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler in the TV series. And she was really proud to play a neuroscientist on TV and inspire many students. She was happy to provide them with as many realistic science situations as possible, and show them the depth of the science experience, both personally and professionally.
8. Steven Spielberg
Spielberg was not interested in school. His mother gave him free rein and often allowed him to stay home as if he was ill, so he could edit his movies. His father bothered about his grades more, but still did his son’s science homework for him.
In 1968, Universal gave Spielberg the opportunity to write and direct a short film, which then became a success. A year later, he dropped out of the college to pursue his directing career. Anyhow, he returned to it and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Arts — 37 years after he had first enrolled.
9. Oprah Winfrey
Winfrey also is proof that academic credentials are important in America, but knowing what you want is crucial. She studied at college for only two years and then chose to concentrate on her TV career. Only after she was a successful television personality did she finally receive a degree in 1987.
She stated many times that education was the most important thing because it is what liberated her. The ability to read saved her life. And now she provides access to quality education to those who might not otherwise receive the opportunity through her Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation (OWCF).
10. Emma Watson
The actress is mainly known today for her work as an activist and feminist. But she is an advocate for the importance of education as well. She chose to place her education before her career and was a dedicated student, even during her Harry Potter years, despite all the strong words of discouragement from her agents.
Watson pursued a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and attended the prestigious Brown University in the US. She also attended the University of Oxford, where she studied English. “I have enough money never to have to work again,” says Watson, “but I would never want that. Learning keeps me motivated.” And we totally share this passion and thirst for knowledge with her.
11. Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1973, but left it after a year and a half to join an independent experimental theater company. “I was young and very unsophisticated, but eager to train and perform,” said the actor. This May, he returned to Milwaukee to celebrate the 2022 graduates and receive an honorary doctorate. He said it was a great honor to him.
12. Taylor Swift
The 11-time Grammy winner, Taylor Swift, finally received an honorary degree from NYU at 32 years old. The ceremony took place at Yankee Stadium. She made her way to the stage among other honorary doctorates blowing kisses and waving to the crowd and said jokingly, “Hi, I’m Taylor. Last time I was in a stadium this size, I was dancing in heels and wearing a glittery leotard. This outfit is much more comfortable.”
And what part does education play in your life? Have you achieved everything you’ve always dreamed about? Please share your stories in the comments below.