Which Famous Alumni Have Studied At Harvard University?
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dancing
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The Famous Faces That Have Studied At Harvard University

Vincent Ralph March 18, 2023

Unsurprisingly, given its reputation, some of the most influential people of our time have studied at Harvard. Tech heavyweights, presidents, campaigners and Hollywood stars all walked the hallowed halls as fresh-faced students. So which famous alumni studied at Harvard?

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder, and CEO of Facebook, is one of the most famous alumni of Harvard University. He attended in the early 2000s and dropped out to start his tech empire. Zuckerberg founded Facebook from his Harvard dorm room in 2004 and has since grown it into one of the world’s largest social media platforms. As of 2021, Facebook had 2.9 billion monthly active users, making it the largest social network worldwide. Zuckerberg’s net worth is estimated to be $113 billion, according to Forbes. If you want a glimpse back in time, to when Zuckerberg was starting out at the university, be sure to check out the critically acclaimed movie The Social Network.

Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, is another famous alumnus of Harvard. He attended Harvard Law School in the late 1980s and early 1990s, where he excelled as a student and served as the first Black president of the Harvard Law Review. Obama went on to become a civil rights attorney before entering politics. He served in the Illinois State Senate before being elected to the United States Senate in 2004. Obama made history in 2008 when he was elected as the first Black president of the United States, serving two terms in office.

We can’t mention one Obama without the other. After all, Barack met his future wife at the institution.

Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States, graduated from Harvard Law School in 1988, and went on to become a successful lawyer and public servant. She later served as the First Lady from 2009 to 2017, using her platform to advocate for numerous causes, including education, healthy living, and women’s rights.

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Hollywood Royalty Studied At Harvard

Academy Award-winning actor Natalie Portman went to Harvard in the early 2000s and graduated with a degree in psychology. She was already a household name by then, having burst onto the scene when she was just a child for her hypnotic performance in Leon. Portman has starred in numerous critically acclaimed films, including Black Swan and Jackie. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2011 and she is also a noted philanthropist and activist, advocating for animal rights, environmental causes, and gender equality.

From one film star to another, Matt Damon studied here in the early 1990s but left before completing his degree to pursue his acting career. In hindsight, that was the right call! Damon has since become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, starring in blockbuster films such as the Bourne series and Good Will Hunting, which he co-wrote with Ben Affleck. Damon has been nominated for numerous awards, including four Academy Awards, and has won one for Best Original Screenplay.

Game-Changing Alumni Learnt At Harvard

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft and one of the richest people in the world, is also a notable Harvard alumnus. He attended Harvard in the 1970s but dropped out to start Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen. Gates has since become one of the most influential people in the tech industry, revolutionizing personal computing and creating one of the world’s largest software companies. Gates is also a noted philanthropist, having donated billions of dollars through his foundation to combat poverty, disease, and climate change.

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Philanthropist Priscilla Chan graduated from Harvard with a degree in biology in 2007, and later earned her medical degree from the University of California. She has since dedicated her career to improving healthcare and education, founding the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative with her husband Mark in 2015. The initiative seeks to support organizations and initiatives that aim to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Rashida Jones, the actress and writer best known for her roles in Parks and Recreation and The Office, is also a Harvard alumna. Jones graduated from Harvard with a degree in comparative religion in 1997, and later pursued a successful career in the entertainment industry. In addition to her work as an actress, Jones is also an accomplished writer and producer, having written several episodes of Parks and Recreation and co-writing the screenplay for the movie Celeste and Jesse Forever.

So there you have it. This list just scratches the surface when it comes to famous alumni who have studied at Harvard. But it is testament to the university and shows that anything really is possible.

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Vincent Ralph is Senior Managing Editor at GRV Media. He graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Greenwich and later completed his NCTJ in Newspaper and Magazine Journalism while studying in Cornwall. He was previously Head of Sixth Form at a secondary school in Kent, where he worked with hundreds of 16 to 19-year-olds over eight years. He joined GRV Media in 2014, working his way up from football writer to a senior member of staff. After two years as Managing Editor of Rousing The Kop and The Boot Room he became Senior Managing Editor of new student website Freshered. Vincent is a two-time New York Times bestselling author and his second novel is also a USA Today bestseller and the winner of the Southern Schools Book Award.