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 Notable Alumni 

Notable Alumni

Many students who began their higher education at a U.S. community college have continued on to make significant contributions and achieve high recognition in a variety of fields. Community college alumni include renowned astronauts, doctors, business leaders, artists, government leaders, athletes, and scientists. Below are some examples of notable community college alumni. Click on the links on the left for further examples.

Science and Technology


J. Craig Venter
College of San Mateo (1969)
Venter developed a revolutionary strategy for gene sequencing, which could transform the understanding, treatment and prevention of disease.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

J. Craig Venter |Source=A New Human Genome Sequence Paves the Way for Individualized Genomics Gross L PLoS Biology Vol. 5, No. 10, e266 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050266

Eileen Collins
Corning Community College (1976)
Collins is a former NASA astronaut and the first female pilot of a U.S. space shuttle in 1995 and in 1999 became the first woman to command a shuttle mission.

Fred W. Haise
Perkinston Junior College (now Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College) (1952)
Haise is the lunar module pilot for the famed Apollo 13 mission to the moon.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

This image or video was catalogued by Johnson Space Center of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under Photo ID: S69-62238

R. Bruce Merrifield
Pasadena City College (1941)
Merrifield is a winner of the 1984 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His work, "The Synthesis of a Tetrapeptide" revolutionized peptide chemistry with his discovery of how to synthesize peptides in a simple and efficient way that was suited to mechanization and automation.

Sylvia Earle
St. Petersburg Junior College (1953)
Earle is an undersea explorer who has participated in more than 50 expeditions, founded a company to design robotics for undersea exploration, and as National Geographic Explorer in Residence, monitors underwater sanctuaries and directs research projects

Arts and Design


George Lucas
Modesto Junior College (1964)
Lucas is a renowned film producer, screenwriter, director, and entrepreneur. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive of Lucasfilm. He is best known as the creator of feature films Star Wars franchise and the Indiana Jones series. Lucas is one of the US film industry's most successful directors and producers.

Oscar Hijuelos
Bronx Community College (1973)
Hijuelos is the first Hispanic American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love. His novels have been translated into more than 25 languages.

Gwendolyn Brooks
Wilson Junior College (now Kennedy-King College) (1936)
Brooks is an African-American poet. She was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968 and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.With her second book of poetry, Annie Allen (1950), she became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Gwendolyn Brooks, Miami Book Fair International, 1985 (MDC Archives)

David Chu
Fashion Institute of Technology
Chu is a fashion designer who founded Nautica International, Inc., a billion-dollar apparel company.

Vy Higginsen
Fashion Institute of Technology
Higginsen wrote, produced and directed Mama, I Want to Sing, the longest-running off-Broadway black musical in the history of American theater.



Jim Lehrer
Victoria College
Lehrer is the executive editor and anchor of the PBS NewsHour on public television. A reporter since 1959, he won two Emmys and in 1999 was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Jim Lehrer at the 2007 Texas Book Festival, Austin, Texas, United States (Photo by Larry D. Moore)

Carol Guzy
Northampton Community College (1977)
Guzy is a photojournalist who has won the Pulitzer Prize four times. She was the first female photojournalist to win the award in 1986.

Photo from The Pulitzer Prizes

John Walsh
Cayuga County Community College
Walsh is an advocate for missing and exploited children and host of television's America's Most Wanted.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

John Walsh of "America's Most Wanted" filming a segment for the his show in the studios of the show in the National Museum of Crime and Punishment -originally posted to Flickr as _MG_5948

Government and Public Service


Kweisi Mfume
Community College of Baltimore (now Baltimore City Community College) (1973)
Mfume is a former president and CEO of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Previous to that post, he represented Maryland's 7th Congressional district in the United States Congress for ten years.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Richard J. Daley College (1977)
Tinubu is a former governor of Lagos, Nigeria. After graduating from community college in the United States, he transferred to a university. In 1983, he returned to Nigeria to work for Mobil Oil. He was elected to the Nigerian Senate in 1992 and was governor of Lagos from 1999 to 2007.



Bonnie Blair
Parkland College (1987)
Blair is a five-time Olympic gold medalist who competed in the 1988, 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympic games in speed-skating.

Nolan Ryan
Alvin Community College (1971)
Ryan is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. He is currently principal owner, president and CEO of the Texas Rangers. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Nolan Ryan warning up in the bullpen at Tiger Stadium. Source [ Nolan Ryan - Tiger Statium 1990] Author Uploaded with derivativeFX



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