5 Surprising Celebrities with English Degrees

By Danica Krenson on February 11, 2013

As an English major at a polytechnic school, the reactions I get from people who find out what I’m studying are variations of the same two genres: “What grade do you want to teach?” and “I didn’t know you needed a degree to work at Starbucks!” While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a teacher or barista, Cal Poly’s English Alumni Speed Networking event a few weeks ago started me thinking just how many careers are available to people with English degrees. I’ve compiled a list (in no particular order) of famous people who surprisingly have degrees in English.

1. Stassi Schroeder

As one of the stars of Bravo’s new show “Vanderpump Rules”, Stassi Schroeder makes her living working as a server at Lisa Vanderpump’s (of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fame) restaurant Sur as well as modeling on the side. Though degrees are not required for either of these positions, fans of the show will agree that her clever retorts and witty put-downs are a huge part of what makes this show so fabulous. I’m guessing her degree in English helped her with those verbal skills…

2. Sally Ride

Sally Ride was the first female astronaut to enter the low Earth orbit in 1983 and is still the youngest American to go into space. According to an interview with www.achievement.org, her original major of physics was becoming monotonous and in order to gain a more balanced education, Ride began taking English courses. She ended up enjoying them and taking so many that she qualified for a double major in Physics and English from Stanford University. When asked if Shakespearean drama helped her as an astronaut, Ride replied, “I am certain that it did.”

3. James Franco

James Franco enrolled at UCLA as an English major after high school but eventually dropped out. In 2006 he re-enrolled, took almost triple the amount of normal units per quarter in order to graduate in 2008 with a BA in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. He then went on to receive an MFA in writing from Columbia. He is currently studying for his PhD in English from Yale University. Franco has been quoted as saying that his education helped him “take acting seriously”, and that “writing can do things that video cannot”.

4. Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer is one of the most easily recognizable news anchors today. She is currently the anchor of ABC World News and was previously co-anchor of Good Morning America. She received her BA in English from Wellesley College in 1967. In 2001 Ladies Home Journal named her one of the thirty most powerful women in America. Her most impressive interviews have been with: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (President of Iran), Fidel Castro, and Meryl Streep.


5. Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase is a comedian probably best known for his stint on Saturday Night Live and National Lampoon’s Vacation movie series. He graduated from Bard College in New York with a BA in English in 1967. Chase was one of the original SNL cast members who was originally hired as a writer, and only became a cast member right before the show’s premiere.

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