17 Latino Celebrities That Hold a College Degree And You Had No Idea
So many of our favorite celebrities attract us with their talents, good looks, or killer personalities. Unfortunately, there aren’t many celebrities, Latino or otherwise, that are known for their brains. However, the tradition of higher education is still alive and well, and many of our favorite Latino celebs actually have college degrees that they often don’t mention. Let’s check out some of our favorite Latino celebs that have college degrees, and see how they’ve used their education to improve their careers.
1. America Ferrera
Instagram / @americaferrera
Best known for her role on Ugly Betty from 2006 to 2010, America Ferrera was born in Los Angeles to two parents who had recently immigrated from Honduras. She did plays all through elementary and high school, and eventually went to the University of Southern California to study both theater and international relations. She dropped out of school to focus on acting but ended up going back more than 10 years later to finish up her degree. Now, she divides her time between acting and political activism through organizations like the Time’s Up legal defense fund and Voto Latino.
2. Nina Garcia
Instagram / @ninagarcia
Although she’s been the editor-in-chief of Elle for more than 15 years, Nina Garcia is most recognizable to the public from her work as a judge on Project Runway. Garcia was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, but moved to the United States to attend a boarding school in Massachusetts at a very young age. Her exacting eye for fashion was developed through her journalism work, but she also has a related degree in fashion merchandising from the Fashion Institute of Technology. That’s in addition to her Bachelor’s degree from Boston University!
3. Mark Sanchez
Twitter / @marksanchez
Mark Sanchez has played football on six teams in his nine years in the NFL. Currently, he’s the quarterback of the Washington Redskins, but he grew up in beautiful southern California. Like many other kids from his neighborhood, he went to the University of Southern California, and finished his degree the same summer that he entered the NFL Draft. He’s considered one of the greatest Mexican-American athletes within the United States. He’s third-generation Mexican-American, and even took Spanish lessons so he could communicate better with Latino news outlets.
4. Salma Hayek
Instagram / @salmahayek
Salma Hayek, who first became known for her work on Mexican telenovelas, has been a famous member of the Hollywood A-list since her first American movie (Desperado) in 1995. She was born in Mexico, and has moved back and forth from the United States a few times- the first was when she was 12, and moved to Louisiana to attend boarding school. She went to the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, and graduated with a degree in international relations.
5. Aubrey Plaza
Twitter / @evilhag
Although it pains us to see her as anyone other than April Ludgate, Aubrey Plaza has become even more famous since her days on Parks and Recreation. Since Parks and Rec ended, she’s starred in several Hollywood blockbusters including Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and Ingrid Goes West. Plaza attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts from 2003 to 2006, and while she was there performed at the venerable Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, doing improv and sketch comedy.
6. Christy Turlington
Instagram / @cturlington
American-Salvadoran supermodel Christy Turlington was first discovered by a photographer when she was riding a horse in Miami, Florida. She was under 16 at the time, and for the next two years spent most of her after school time and summer vacations modeling. She moved to NYC when she was 18 to pursue a modeling career full-time. Although she didn’t attend a traditional college, she later enrolled at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, a school that’s famous for allowing students to essentially shape their own degrees. Turlington graduated with a degree in comparative religion and Eastern philosophy.
7. Eva Longoria
Instagram / @evalongoria
Eva Longoria has been a well-known TV actress since her time on The Young and the Restless back in 2001. After she left that show in 2003, she signed on to play Gabrielle Solis in Desperate Housewives, which ran until 2012. This Tejano beauty has been a hard worker from early on, working at Wendy’s for three years to earn enough money for her quinceañera. She attended Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and earned her degree in kinesiology before getting her masters in Chicano studies at Cal State Northridge.
8. Rosie Perez
Twitter / @rosieperezbklyn
Former The View host Rosie Perez has been a Hollywood and Broadway stalwart for decades now. Born in Brooklyn, and strongly identifying as a Nuyorican, Perez grew up all over Brooklyn and Queens before moving to Los Angeles for college. She appeared in a ton of different music videos after being scouted at a dance club, but now says that she only danced to relieve stress while she was doing her undergrad in bio-chemistry. She has been an active supporter of Puerto Rican rights all her life.
9. Tatyana Ali
Instagram / @tatyanaali
Panamanian-Trinidadian actress Tatyana Ali was born in North Bellmore, New York, and started her acting career at an extremely young age. She was a child performer on Sesame Street, but made her acting breakthrough when she was cast as Ashley Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Although she’s been acting since she was a kid, she took time out of her career to attend Harvard, where she got a degree in African-American and Government studies. She’s currently married to an assistant professor of English who teaches at Stanford.
10. Soledad O’Brien
Twitter / @soledadobrien
Soledad O’Brien, who currently helms the nationally-syndicated Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, attended Harvard-Radcliffe College. She actually dropped out right before she graduated to take her first TV job, but went back to finish her degree 12 years later, in 2000. She has five siblings, all of whom graduated from Harvard as well.
11. Oscar Isaac
Twitter / @realoscarisaac
Oscar Isaac was actually born Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada. He came to the United States from his home country of Guatemala when he was only 5 years old. He was a class clown growing up, and was eventually expelled from grade school. He joined a band in high school, but eventually gave up music to attend the acting program at the Juilliard School in NYC. Since then, he’s been in tons of movies including Inside Llewyn Davis and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
12. Sara Ramirez
Instagram / @therealsararamirez
Mexican-American activist and actress Sara Ramirez is definitely a triple-threat. She played the original Lady of the Lake in the Broadway musical Spamalot, is still remembered fondly from her days on Grey’s Anatomy, and released her first solo EP in 2011. She’s also a passionate LGBTQ activist and works with several organizations to advocate for equal rights around the world. She graduated from the elite Juilliard School with a BFA in Dramatics.
13. Jordana Brewster
Instagram / @jordanabrewster
As an actress, Jordana Brewster has really done it all. She’s appeared in soap operas, horror films, indie dramas, and finally the action franchise The Fast and the Furious. After more than 14 years with the franchise, she was written out after Furious 7. She’s appeared on multiple lists of the sexiest women in the world, but she’s got brains as well. She graduated from Yale in 2003 with a degree in English.
14. Laz Alonso
Instagram / @lazofficial
Another popular actor that’s also appeared in the Fast and the Furious franchise is Laz Alonso. He first got his start hosting shows on the BET network, and eventually moved on to roles in movies like Stomp the Yard and Jarhead. He comes from a Washington, DC-area Afro-Cuban family, and was an investment banker before he became an actor. He graduated from Howard University with a BBA in Marketing.
15. Victor Cruz
Instagram / @teamvic
After a near-record-breaking 131 catches during his college football career at UMass, Victor Cruz was first drafted by the New York Giants. After finishing his degree, he went on to play as a wide receiver for both the Giants and the Chicago Bears before retiring in 2018. He’s currently an analyst for ESPN.
16. Benjamin Bratt
Instagram / @benjaminbratt
All millennials will remember Benjamin Bratt, the hottie who played Sandra Bullock’s partner in Miss Congeniality. This American-Peruvian silver fox also spent four years as Det. Rey Curtis on Law & Order. He grew up in San Francisco, and attended UC Santa Barbara, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He planned on doing a Master’s degree in theater, but left the program before he graduated to appear in the TV movie Juarez.
17. Dania Ramirez
Instagram / @daniajramirez
Actress Dania Ramirez was born in the Dominican Republic, but moved to the United States as a teenager to study acting. She ended up graduating from Montclair State University in New Jersey, having played varsity volleyball for most of her college years. She’s appeared in TV, movies, and music videos, and has also modeled for CoverGirl.