Although Ivy League universities are known for shaping the sharpest minds, prominent people in every profession are breaking the myth that success depends solely on your Alma Mater.
Indeed the focused education found at non-traditional colleges may give you a special boost. Moreover the low debt burden of junior college may be appealing to many in this economy.
Walter Elias Disney is an American pioneer and innovator in motion pictures known for his creation of Mickey Mouse and Disneyland.
At some point in his life, he attended Metropolitan Junior College in Missouri.
During the earlier stages of his production company, Disney held the Technicolor patent for two years, allowing him to be the sole producer in coloured motion pictures.
Throughout his lifetime, Disney and his staff won 48 Academy Awards and seven Emmys.
Gwendolyn Brooks has authored more than 20 poetry books and won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1949 work 'Annie Allen.'
Brooks graduated from junior college in the 1930s and would later teach at Columbia College (Chicago), Northeastern Illinois University, Elmhurst College, Columbia University, Clay College of New York, and the University of Wisconsin.
In 1968, she was named Poet Laureate for the state of Illinois and served until her death in 2000.
In 1985, she was also appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.
James Claude Wright, Jr. is a Texas Congressman who served as a Representative for 34 years and former Speaker of the House from 1987 to 1989.
Wright was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1922 and enrolled in Weatherford Community College from 1939 to 1940 before transferring to the University of Texas for another year. He never received his degree and enlisted in the United States Army Air Force in December 1941.
Wright was the Mayor of Weatherford from 1950 to 1954.
He resigned in 1989 when a House investigation found him guilty of several savings and loans scandals.
Henry Ross Perot is a businessman and former presidential candidate in the 1992 and 1996 elections.
Perot attended Texarkana Junior College before joining the U.S. Navy. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1953.
After leaving the Navy, he worked for IBM before leaving to form his own company Electronic Data Systems. In 1894, the company was sold to General Motors for $2.4 billion. His next company, Perot Systems Corporation, Inc., would be acquired by Dell for a reported $3.9 billion in 2009.
As of March 2011, he is ranked the 99th richest person in America in Forbes billionaires list.
James Byron Dean is an American actor, cultural icon and the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Dean grew up on a farm in Indiana and enrolled in Santa Monica College to study pre-law before transferring to the University of California, Los Angeles majoring in drama. In 1951, he dropped out of UCLA to begin a full-time career in acting.
Dean avoided the draft by registering himself as a homosexual which was deemed a mental disorder at the time.
In 1955, he died a premature death at the age of 24 in a car accident.
Jim Lehrer is an American journalist most known for his work with PBS and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.
He received his Associate of Arts degree from Victoria College before attaining his Bachelor in Journalism at the University of Missouri.
After a stint with the marines, Lehrer got his start in newspapers before breaking into public television. He covered the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry of President Richard Nixon.
Lehrer has been awarded numerous awards for his journalistic abilities, including two Emmys, a Chairman Award and the Fourth Estate Award. He has authored 20 novels and three plays.
Clinton Eastwood is an award-winning actor, film maker, composer and politician.
In the early 1950s, he was a swimming instructor for the U.S. Army. He almost gave up acting and attended Los Angeles City College to study business administration before he got his big break in the TV series 'Rawhide.' In 1971, his role in 'Dirty Harry' turned him into a superstar.
From 1986 to 1988, he was the Mayor of Carmel in California. He is also an accomplished jazz musician.
He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Wesleyan University and the Berklee College of Music.
In 1972, he was appointed to serve on the National Council of the Arts by President Nixon.
Eastwood was nominated for both Best Actor and Best Director in the films 'Unforgiven' and 'Million Dollar Baby.'
George Walton Lucas Jr. is an American director who redefined the term 'blockbuster' with his Star Wars, American Graffiti and Indiana Jones films.
Before he became interested in cinematography, Lucas wanted to be a motor racer and enrolled at Modesto Junior College to study anthropology in the 1960s. He eventually graduated from film school at the University of Southern California.
William Edward 'Billy' Crystal is an American actor and film director and long-time host of the Academy Awards.
He originally attended Marshall University in West Virginia on a baseball scholarship but the program was suspended during his freshman year. He then briefly Nassau Community College and eventually graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a B.F.A in 1970.
One of his most famous roles is Harry Burns in 'When Harry Met Sally.'
Samuel Shepards 'Steve' Rogers is an American playwright, actor, director.
He reportedly changed his name to Sam Shepard because Steve Rogers was the name of the original Captain America and dodged the Vietnam War draft by claiming to be a heroin addict.
After graduating from high school in California, Shepard attended Mount San Antonio Junior College with a major in agriculture. He dropped out after one year to pursue an acting career in New York in the early 1960s.
He won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play 'Buried Child' in 1979 and became nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor with his role in 'The Right Stuff' in 1983.
Benjamin Cayetano was the Governor of Hawaii from 1994 to 2002.
Before attending college, Cayetano worked a slew of technical jobs after barely graduating high school due to poor grades.
He moved to California to pursue a degree in law and attended Los Angeles Harbor College before transferring to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he graduated with a degree in political science in 1968.
He went on to receive a J.D. from Loyola Law School in 1971 and was elected to the state house in Honolulu three years later.
Cayetano was Lieutenant Governor for eight years before becoming Governor.
Nolan D. Archibald is the CEO of the Black & Decker Corporation and was the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 Company when he was appointed at the age of 42.
Archibald graduated from Dixie Junior College, now known as Dixie State College of Utah, in 1966 with honours. He went on to receive his Bachelor of Science from Weber State in 1968 and an MBA from Harvard in 1970.
John Walsh attended Cayuga Community College before becoming the leading advocate for child safety and legislation reform
John Walsh is a TV personality, victims advocate and former hotel developer.
In 1981, his son Adam was abducted and murdered. The case remained unsolved for the next 27 years until 2008.
Since Adam's death, Walsh has been a strong advocate for legislation reform and helped create the Missing Children Act of 1982 and the Missing Children's Assistance Act of 1984.
In 1988, he became the host of America's Most Wanted.
Walsh was born in Auburn, New York and attended Cayuga Community College before eventually graduating from the University at Buffalo.
Lynn Nolan Ryan, Jr., nicknamed 'The Ryan Express,' is the current CEO of the Texas Rangers and former Major League Baseball pitcher known for his regularly recorded pitches of more than 100 miles per hour.
Throughout this career, Ryan played for four different teams, including the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers.
He attended community college before being drafted by the New York Mets.
Ryan was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 after playing with the Rangers for 27 years.
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks is an Oscar-winning actor and director who was nominated and won the most Academy Awards between 1994 and 2004.
Hanks attended Chabot College and California State University before travelling to Cleveland for a community theatre play to start his acting career.
Eileen Marie Collins is a NASA astronaut and first woman Space Shuttle Commander.
She was selected by NASA in January 1990 and became an astronaut in July 1991. With four space flights, she's logged more than 872 hours in space and retired from NASA in May 2006.
In addition, she's logged more than 6,751 hours in 30 different aircrafts and retired from the Air Force in January 2005.
She received as Associate science degree in mathematics and science from Corning Community College in 1976 before continuing her education at Syracuse, Stanford and Webster University.
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician most known in her role as the former Governor of Alaska and Vice-Presidential nominee during the 2008 election.
Palin has provided commentary for Fox News and hosted the television show 'Sarah Palin's Alaska.'
She attended five different colleges during her education career before graduating from the University of Idaho with a bachelor's degree in communications in 1987.
During her switching back and forth between schools, Palin briefly attended North Idaho College and Matanuska-Susitna College, both community colleges.
In 1984, she won the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant and placed third in the Miss Alaska pageant.
Palin is a possible candidate for the 2012 presidential election.
Rudy Gatlin received fame at a very young age alongside his older brother, Larry, when they won a talent show is Texas and went on to perform on the radio and TV.
The brothers won a Grammy for Best Country Song with their track 'Broken Lady' and toured throughout America performing at sold-out shows.
Rudy has also become an inspirational speaker and is involved in golf events.
Somewhere along the way, he also attended Odessa College in Texas.
Teri Lynn Hatcher is an American actress who became an A-lister with her role in the dark television comedy 'Desperate Housewives.'
Hatcher is the daughter of a nuclear physicist and a computer programmer and originally studied mathematics and engineering at De Anza College in Cupertino, California. She also studied acting at the American Conservatory theatre in San Francisco and was a cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers.
Hatcher dropped out of De Anza College after nearly three years to play the part of a mermaid in 'Love Boat.'
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is a former bodybuilder and actor who became the Governor of California as a Republican.
At the age of 20, Schwarzenegger won the title of Mr. Universe and later Mr. Olympia, which would eventually help him immigrate to America.
Schwarzenegger took English classes at Santa Monica College in California before receiving a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin--Superior with a degree in Business and International Economics in 1979.
Edward Regan Murphy is an American comedian, actor, producer and musician.
He discovered his comedic talent from an early age and was writing and performing his own skits by the age of 15.
Murphy attended Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York before his acting career took off. In the early 1980s, he was a regular cast member on 'Saturday Night Live.'
Daniel Hayes is an American transplant surgeon is Charlotte, North Carolina.
He originally attended the small, community college, Spartanburg Methodist, in South Carolina before graduating from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine in 1981. Hayes received additional training at Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation.
Dwight Smith is a former Major League Baseball player from 1989 to 1996.
Before becoming the famed Cubs outfielder, he attended Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina.
In 1995, he played in the World Series with the Atlanta Braves who defeated the Cleveland Indians that year.
Halle Marie Berry is an American actor who became the first African-American to win the Best Actress Oscar for her role in 'Monster's Ball.'
In 1985, she won the Miss Teen-All American Pageant for the state of Ohio and became runner-up the following year in Miss Teen USA.
Berry attended Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College to study broadcast journalism but decided to focus on an entertainment career instead.
Dana Elaine Owens, better known as 'Queen Latifah,' is an influential female artists who was the first female rapper to be nominated for an Academy Award.
At a young age, Latifah and two friends formed a group called 'Ladies Fresh' -- later called 'flavour Unit' -- who was signed by Tommy Boy Music in 1988. By the time Latifah enrolled at Borough of Manhattan Community College, her first two single releases had sold 40,000 copies.
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