In "Community," Chevy Chase (Pierce) plays a successful baby boomer returning to college, Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley) plays a middle-aged divorcé looking to update her skills and Alison Brie (Annie) plays a perfectionist who plans on transferring to an Ivy League university. Those characters are right in line with real community college students and alumni. Check out a few profiles of real-life community college alumni.
Real Community College Alums:
J. Craig Venter, Scientist & Founder
The Institute for Genomic Research
College of San Mateo, California
Under the leadership of J. Craig Venter, president and chief scientific officer at Celera Genomics Corp. in Rockville, Md., researchers at the company have used automated DNA sequencing machines and supercomputers to identify, analyze and catalog the estimated 65,000 human genes regions of DNA. A three-year medical corpsman in Vietnam, Venter attended the College of San Mateo and then transferred to the University of California, San Diego, where he received his Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology. Venter is the author of more than 145 research articles, has edited a book series on receptor biochemistry and methodology, serves on several editorial boards and is editor-in-chief of the journal Genome Science and Technology.
George Lucas, Film Director, Writer, Producer
Modesto Junior College, California
As a child, school was not a priority for George Lucas. He preferred to draw and write. But after a near-fatal car accident, Lucas ventured into higher education at Modesto Junior College in California where he earned an associate of arts degree in history in 1964. He later enrolled at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. Lucas, who wrote and directed blockbusters such as the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" series, has won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in addition to dozens of other awards for his films and audio technology used in films.
Jim Sinegal, President and CEO
Costco Wholesale Corporation
San Diego City College, California
Jim Sinegal got his start in discount retail while studying at San Diego City College in California. A one-day assignment unloading mattresses led to a full-time job at a large discount retail chain called Fed-Mart. Eventually he worked his way up to the executive ranks as the chain founder's protégé. Now, Sinegal is the CEO of Costco, a $50 billion company. The Costco Scholarship fund gives millions to students every year, and Sinegal is involved in many nonprofit academic ventures.
William Green, Chairman and CEO
Dean College, Massachusetts
William Green, the son of a plumber, was offered a plumber's union apprenticeship the same day two-year Dean College accepted him. He had an undistinguished high school career, but decided to pursue a college education nonetheless. He went on to graduate from Babson College in 1977 and joined Andersen Consulting, a division of the Big Five accounting firm that would later spin off as Accenture.
Junki Yoshida, CEO
Yoshida Group Companies
Highline Community College, Washington
At 19, Junki Yoshida came to the U.S. on a tourist visa from Japan. He had $500 in his pocket and sold the return ticket for $750. With that he bought a Valiant, which he parked at the beach and lived in for the next few months. His English was poor and he had little money, so he approached Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash., about trading karate lessons for classes. Today, Yoshida is the founder and chief executive officer of Yoshida Group Cos. in Portland, Ore. The company's products range from Jones Golf bags and Forrester's Outerwear, to Prison Blues accessories and garments.
Maureen Dunne, Rhodes Scholar
College of DuPage, Illinois
Maureen Dunne's interest in working with children with developmental disabilities was sparked by an internship she had while attending College of DuPage. She began working with a 5-year-old child with autism while on a co-op program. The child's progress during the year they worked together had an enormous effect on her. Dunne was later named a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford in England, where she researched the unique thinking style of children with autism. Her scholarly pursuits are interdisciplinary, spanning developmental psychology, philosophy, social anthropology and linguistics.
Richard Carmona, M.D.
U.S. Surgeon General
Bronx Community College, New York
Born in poverty in New York City, Richard Carmona dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army in 1967. He earned a GED and fought in Vietnam. After leaving active duty, Carmona earned an associate of arts degree from Bronx Community College in New York and eventually went on to the University of California's Medical School, graduating at the top of his class. In 2002, he became the 17th U.S. Surgeon General. After his term expired in 2006, Carmona became vice chairman of the Canyon Ranch resort and spa company, president of the non-profit Canyon Ranch Institute and a professor at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona.
Tom Arnold, Writer, Actor, Comedian
Indian Hills Community College, Iowa
TV and movie star Tom Arnold went to work at a local meat packing plant after graduating from high school. Knowing that he needed a degree to advance to a management position, he started college. The plans of a management position evaporated. The college stuck. Arnold became a straight 'A' student while at Indian Hills Community College. After graduating from Indian Hills, Arnold moved onto the University of Iowa where he began his comedy career that blossomed into acting roles in commercials, TV shows and movies.