Mark Wahlberg is a pretty successful guy. At 41, he has an Oscar nomination, five hundred million-plus grossing blockbusters and a slew of other critical and box office hits under his buff belt. What he doesn’t have is a high school diploma, but the father of four is looking to set an example and is returning to school to get his high school diploma.
The actor dropped out of school in the ninth grade, and on “The Late Show with David Letterman” last night announced that he’s going back to high school beginning later this month. Wahlberg will complete his education courtesy of a new online program.
“It’s an actual diploma,” Wahlberg told Letterman. “I’ve got to take up all the courses that I missed, and I’m a little nervous. … They’re going to give me whatever credits I already have, which is probably like one or two. But I’m going to make it happen.”
Wahlberg’s announcement is no doubt linked to his involvement with Taco Bell’s Graduate-To-Go program as an ambassador. The actor has been involved with the program, which seeks to help at-risk teens graduate high school, for three years.
“Participating in this campaign with Mona [a student helped by the program] inspired me, and I hope it will inspire others to help teens like her achieve greatness against all odds,” Wahlberg said in a recent press release announcing his continued involvement.
He told Letterman that he has “a lot of downtime on sets in the trailer and stuff,” so he hopes to “blast through [his course work]—hopefully do it within six to eight months.”
Wahlberg isn’t the only celebrity who, despite fame and fortune, has put a premium on education, seeking out their high school diploma or GED after dropping out of school for one reason or another.
Check out four more after the jump!
New mom Jessica was quite popular in high school – she was a cheerleader and was nominated as homecoming queen two years in a row at of J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas – but decided to drop out in 1997 to pursue her music career. Two years later, her debut single, “I Wanna Love You Forever,” hit #3 on the single charts and she released her successful debut, Sweet Kisses.
But she ultimately decided that getting her diploma was a big enough deal for her to get her GED – something she is no doubt glad she did now that she is in command of the biggest celebrity fashion line ever.
Hilton’s family was based on the west coast until she was 14, when they relocated to New York. Unfortunately for the socialite, her education was scattered at best after her move. In NYC, she briefly attended the Catholic private school Convent of the Sacred Heart (reportedly while Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, who you probably know best as Lady Gaga, was also a student there) in 1996 before moving on to attend the upscale Dwight School. She then transferred to a boarding school in Connecticut for only a few months, from the fall of 1998 to February 1999. She was expelled from that school for violating school rules (NO!) and returned to the Dwight School for a few months before dropping out as a high school junior.
Like Simpson, she went on to earn her GED.
Years before 50 Cent became one of the biggest names in hip-hop, he was a troubled youth from south Jamaica, Queens, who began dealing drugs as a teenager. In the tenth grade, he was caught by metal detectors at Andrew Jackson High School with weapons and narcotics and was expelled. He was later incarcerated and decided to put his time in jail to good use and earned his GED while behind bars.
Pink, born Alecia Moore in Doylestown, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia), also experienced a troubled adolescence, which she has written about often in her songs. As a teenager, she got caught up in the Philly club scene and reportedly began experimenting with drugs. In 1995, at age 16, she formed the R&B girl group Choice, which performed around the Philadelphia area and eventually earned the attention of L.A. Reid, who would go on to become a longtime mentor for Pink as a solo artist. The pop star dropped out of high school before completing her education, but earned her GED in 1998.