10 Celebs Who Pursued Higher Education After Fame
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10 Celebs Who Pursued Higher Education After Fame

For many, education is the key that unlocks the doors of opportunity, empowering individuals to reach their full potential in any field they choose to pursue.

Because of that advantage and the possibility of wanting to learn a different profession, a handful of celebrities have chosen to go back to school to earn a college degree after obtaining success within the entertainment industry.

With that information, xoNecole lists ten celebrities, ranging from actress Yara Shahidi to Oprah Winfrey, that have pursued higher education after fame.

Sabrina Elba

Sabrina Elba

Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Model and entrepreneur Sabrina Dhowre Elba is well known for her collaborative projects with her husband, Idris Elba, including the couple's humanitarian efforts, genderless skincare brand S'ABLE Labs, and their Coupledom podcast.

In addition to her professional achievements, Elba is also a college-educated woman. Elba attended Howard University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. Although the timeline of when Elba graduated is unclear, the star revealed in a past interview that she was planning on going to law school when she met her husband in 2017 through a chance encounter.

However, in a recent interview with The Break podcast, the model shared that she was going back to school. “I think I wanna do my masters and then my phD, so I’m starting that in September,” she said.

Yara Shahidi

Yara Shahidi got her start in the entertainment industry as a child star and landed a few modeling and acting opportunities in commercials, television shows, and films.

The actress ultimately landed her big break when she portrayed Zoey Johnson in ABC's hit show black-ish, a series about a Black father struggling with his cultural identity as he and his wife raise their children in a predominately white neighborhood. black-ish also stars Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laurence Fishburne, Jenifer Lewis, Marsai Martin, Miles Brown, and Marcus Scribner.

Over the years, while filming black-ish and the show's spinoff grown-ish, Shahidi, who was homeschooled, attended Dwight Global Online School and graduated in 2017.

That same year, The Sun is also a Star alum, announced that she was accepted into Harvard University and began attending the Ivy League in 2018 after taking a gap year. According to a past cover story in Vogue Magazine, as an undergrad, Shahidi studied at Harvard University's social studies and African American departments, focusing on "Black political thought under a neocolonial landscape."

Shahidi graduated from Harvard in May 2022. Since receiving her degree, Shahidi has kept busy with work and is starring in the sixth and final season of grown-ish.



Photo by David Livingston/ Getty Images

The next celebrity on the list is actress and singer Raven Symoné.

Symoné, who has been involved in the industry for over three decades, has starred in various hit shows and films over the years, including The Cosby Show, Hanging with Mr. Cooper, Doctor Dolittle and Doctor Dolittle 2, That's So Raven, College Road Trip, and Raven's Home to name a few.

In addition to having a successful acting career, Symoné pursued music, and by 2013, the star announced that she was briefly retiring from the industry to focus on other passions.

During that time, Symoné enrolled at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California, to major in fine arts. Three years later, The Cheetah Girls alum obtained her associate's degree and returned to the spotlight for her co-hosting gig on The View, which lasted until December 2016.

When asked in an interview with Oprah Winfrey why she decided to go back to school at what appeared to be the height of her career, Symoné shared that she wanted to break the common stereotypes about celebrities.

"I'm going to college. It's giving me a new lease on life," she told Winfrey on the Where Are They Now series. "[I'm taking] art. I want to take jewelry. I want to take sculpting. I want to take printmaking. I want to take finger drawing. I want to turn over that stereotype of what I can become, and to me, it's just an extension of when I was younger."

Although past reports claimed that Symoné would be pursuing a bachelor's degree in arts, it is unclear if she completed that goal.

Tia Mowry

Actress and entrepreneur Tia Mowry is widely recognized for her various roles in Sister, Sister alongside her twin sister Tamera Mowry, The Game, and Netflix's Family Reunion.

But many may not know that following Sister, Sister's cancellation in 1999, Mowry attended Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. During undergrad, Mowry studied psychology and ultimately earned her bachelor's degree.

Since then, Mowry, who shares two children with ex-husband Cory Hardrict, has continued to expand her empire by showcasing her culinary skills on her cooking show Tia Mowry's Quick Fix, and releasing a cookbook, The Quick Fix Kitchen. In addition to her culinary endeavors, Mowry has created a hair care brand, 4 U by Tia.

Tamera Mowry-Housley 

Tamera Mowry-Housley

Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

Tamera Mowry-Housley has been involved in the entertainment industry for over 30 years, just as long as her twin sister Tia Mowry. Mowry and her sister landed their big break in 1994 with the hit series Sister, Sister.

The show --which aired on numerous networks, including ABC and The WB, now known as The CW- lasted six seasons and was ultimately canceled in 1999. After Sister, Sister's cancelation, Mowry took a break from acting to focus on her studies at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. While attending the university, Mowry also majored in psychology, just like her sister, and earned her bachelor's degree.

In addition to earning her degree, Mowry also met her husband, former journalist Adam Housley after her college professor set the pair up. The couple has since welcomed two children. To date, Mowry has returned to acting and starred in various films and television shows, most recently Hallmark's Dreams Moms. Mowry is also the co-owner of Housley Napa Valley, a winery in Napa, California.

Storm Reid

Actress Storm Reid, whose career spans over a decade, rose to fame in 2014 following her breakout role in Disney's A Wrinkle in Time. Reid's success only continued from there. In 2019, Reid portrayed Gia Bennett in HBO's hit Euphoria, and a few years later, she also starred in the show The Last of Us.

Over the years, throughout her career, Reid was homeschooled and after graduating high school, the model attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. The 20-year-old, who is currently a sophomore, is majoring in acting and African American studies.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE

Oprah Winfrey, the well-renown television host, actress, producer, and mogul, once attended college before making a name for herself in the entertainment industry.

Winfrey attended Tennessee State University in the 1970s and majored in Communications. Still, by 1975, the star, who was one credit shy of graduating, dropped out of college to pursue her career in broadcast journalism. A decade later, in 1986, Winfrey returned to Tennessee State University and earned her bachelor's degree in Communications and Performing Arts.

When Winfrey is not running her television network, OWN, and Oprah's Book Club site and newsletter, the star is working on films. Winfrey's most recent work is the highly anticipated musical adaptation of The Color Purple.

Megan Thee Stallion

The seventh individual on the list is rapper Megan Pete also known as Megan Thee Stallion. Pete burst into the rap scene in 2019 following the release of her mixtape Tina Show, which included the hit song "Big Ole Freak."

Since then, Pete's career has only skyrocketed from there, having released two studio albums, Good News and Traumazine, and earning various awards, including three Grammys.

But prior to Pete's fame, the Texas native attended public school and graduated from Pearland High School in 2013. That same year, the "Savage" emcee briefly attended Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas. Shortly after, Pete dropped out when her rapping videos went viral online and gradually built her fan base.

Despite obtaining the accolades years later, Pete decided to pursue her bachelor's degree in health administration, this time by studying at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. Pete ultimately graduated in December 2021.

Keshia Knight Pulliam

Keshia Knight Pulliam

Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images for BET

Actress Keshia Knight Pulliam became a household name in the early 1980s after starring as Rudy Huxtable in the hit sitcom The Cosby Show.

The Cosby Show aired on NBC for eight seasons and ended in 1992. Immediately after the series ended, Pulliam and her family moved to Virginia, where she attended Potomac School and Foxcroft School. In 1997, Pulliam graduated from high school and later attended Spelman College, where she studied sociology.

The star ultimately earned her bachelor's degree in 2001. Since then, Pulliam has continued to act in various films and television shows and is currently married to actor Brad James. The couple are also raising their blended family together.

Jamira "Cuban Link" Haines

The last person on the list is Jamira "Cuban Link" Haines. Haines, who is recognized for her work as a model and fitness trainer, is currently dating mogul Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.

Aside from showcasing the pair's bond on Instagram and promoting her work, Haines is an aspiring attorney. Haines reportedly graduated from Rutgers University in 2020 and received a bachelor's degree in law.

Following her graduation, it was unclear when Haines would continue her education and attend law school, but that all changed in July 2023. In an Instagram post, Haines revealed she had started law school while sharing images from a photoshoot.

"The winner plots one step ahead of the opposition and plays her trump card just after they play theirs," she wrote. "It's about making sure you surprise them, and they don't surprise you. Let the journey begin #lawschool #lawgirls."

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