Cerebral Celebrities

By: Jenny Sweeney

Going back to school is as appealing as the scent of rotten banana peels, and, combined with the spring weather, studying for finals seems nearly impossible. But earning your degree is one of the most important and best decisions you can do now in order to secure your future. Just ask the A-list celebrities and athletes who've continued their education.

Many of Hollywood's most athletic and most talented have prepared for the day when their playing/acting/singing careers end, and real life begins. Though some celebrities earned their degrees the traditional method-through attending university and college campuses, more and more celebs are opting for online distance learning courses as well.

Stars on the Field, in the Online Classroom

Ã?â‚?? Left-handed MLB pitcher, Al Leiter, knows more than just how to pitch a perfect game. In addition to being the only major leaguer to defeat all 30 teams, Leiter, a retired Marlin, also earned his associate's degree through Penn State University's World Campus program.

Ã?â‚?? What's 7 feet tall, wears purple and appeared in 1994's 'Blue Chips'? You guessed it: Shaquille O'Neal. In addition to a NBA Championship, O'Neal also holds a bachelor's degree from Lousianna State University. But the Shaq-Attack's education doesn't end there; O'Neal continued his education, earning an online MBA through University of Phoenix in 2005. Upon earning his MBA, O'Neal, A Miami Beach reserve officer, announced his desire to pursue a degree in criminal justice.

Ã?â‚?? Retired Phoenix Suns forward, Jalen Rose, is a paradigm athlete-scholar. Rose, who was recruited to the NBA from University of Michigan during his junior year of college, was determined to earn his degree. He enrolled in online classes from the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). There, Rose earned his Bachelor's in Management Studies. Now retired, Rose continues to support education through the Jalen Rose Foundation, which offers five $10,000 scholarships to Michigan-area public school students each year.

Ã?â‚?? On the ice, she popularized the 'I' spin position and wows crowds with her difficult jump sequences. As a competitive athletic and professional ice skater, Sasha Cohen understands the importance of nutrition, exercise, and a balance of the two. That's why this young Olympic medalist is focusing on earning her undergraduate degree in Nutrition to Pennsylvania State University's distance learning program.

Ã?â‚?? Former University of Nebraska football star and wide receiver Bobby Newcombe enrolled in an online master's in business administration program through University of Phoenix. While enrolled in the online program, Newcome played for both the Indianapolis Colts as well as the Baltimore Ravens. After his two-year career in NFL, Newcombe returned to the education field. Currently, Newcombe serves as an enrollment manager for his alma mater, the University of Phoenix.



Beauty, Fame and Brains

Ã?â‚?? You've seen her in Lizzie Maguire, and your kid sister probably adores her line of clothing, Stuff by Duff. But what you probably don't know is that Hillary Duff, Disney channel actress-turned-pop-singer-turned-entrepreneur, is currently pursuing her college education. Between recording pop hits, rehearsing for an upcoming film and designing products for her clothing line, Duff chooses from classes in liberal arts, computer science and management through Harvard's Distance Extension program.

Celebrities on Campus

Ã?â‚?? He's famous for his commitment to body building, and most frequently associated with the quote, 'I'll be back' but Mr. Olympia/actor/Governor of California also dedicated himself to his studies. Arnold Schwarzenegger earned a degree in International Fitness Marketing and Business Administration from University of Wisconsin.

Ã?â‚?? If the words Griffyndor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin and Ravenclaw mean anything to you, then you'll know Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling captivates audiences young and old with her imaginative writing. Before Rowling's wizarding series developed, she earned a Bachelor's degree in French from Exeter University.

Ã?â‚?? Oscar winner Jennifer Connolly has been in critically acclaimed films including Requiem for a Dream, A Beautiful Mind and, most recently, Blood Diamond. Connolly began her undergraduate studies at Yale, but later transferred to equally prestigious Stanford University where she earned her BA in English. Additionally, Connolly is fluent in both Italian and French.

Ã?â‚?? He's most often playing opposite fellow actor, Rob Schneider in comedic films such as The Hot Chick, Big Daddy and The Waterboy. But actor Adam Sandler started and honed his comedic capabilities at his alma mater, New York University. While there, Sandler pursued his degree in Fine Arts, and regularly performed at local comedy clubs.

Ã?â‚?? Tommy Lee Jones is not only an Academy Award-winning actor, director and Broadway star, but he is also a cum laude graduate of Harvard's class of 1969. While earning his degree in English, Jones played offensive tackle on Harvard's undefeated football team and was hallmates with future Vice President Al Gore.

Ã?â‚?? Most famous for her stunning Barbie doll physique, The Girls Next Door star Bridget Marquardt is no dumb blonde. This Playboy Playmate graduated from CSU Sacramento with a B.A. in Communications, with a concentration in Public Relations. In 2001, Marquardt received her Master's in Communications from University of Pacific in Stockton, CA. Arguably one of Hugh Hefner's most educated girlfriends, Marquardt continued her education even further by enrolling in a graduate level broadcast communications program through UCLA's Extension program.

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