In case you didn’t know, many of Stanford’s graduates did not actually graduate from Stanford: About half of the people that made our list did not go on the podium to collect their graduation certificates, rather left the university to take on promising careers. We’ll discuss some of them and their careers.
Evan Spiegel, the controversial co-founder and CEO of Snapchat, founded his unicorn company with a former fraternity mate, Bobby Murphy. In 2012, Spiegel dropped out of school, a few months to receiving his college degree, so he could dedicate himself fully to his startup. Things turned out well and he rejected tons of buy-out offers for the company.
Reese Witherspoon started acting at the age of 12 and attended Stanford University briefly in 1994 before dropping out to pursue her acting career, which had her taking flights to Hollywood every weekend while in high school.
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Tiger Woods’ already had a spectacular career while he was a student at Stanford University, where he won numerous awards. Woods studied economics for two years, and left the university in 1995 to play golf professionally.
Google CEO Larry Page studied with his co-founder Sergey Brin in the computer science department at Stanford, where they collectively worked on the algorithm that became Google. In 1998, the two friends dropped out of graduate school in order to run their new company.
Sergey Brin, Google’s Cofounder was a Ph.D candidate at Stanford University before he and Larry Page collaborated and founded Google in 1998. Presently, he is in charge of Google X, which focuses exclusively on the company’s more secretive and risky ventures, such as Google Glass.
Chelsea Clinton spent most of her at Stanford with little to no scrutiny from the media and graduated in 2001 with a BA in history.Although she had an interest in medicine, she currently works alongside her parents at the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative .
As the first woman on the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor got her degree from Stanford Law School in 1952 and got into public service because of the need for public servants at the time, as she described in her 2004 commencement address: “The gender walls that blocked me out of the private sector were more easily hurdled in the public sector.”
Mukesh Ambani is the richest man in India and the chairman, managing director, and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited. After he graduated from the University of Bombay with a degree in chemical engineering, he did Stanford University’s business school before graduating in 1981 to work full time at RIL.
Co-founder of PayPal Peter Thiel isn’t a great fan of technology, despite the fact that much of his success came from investment in technology. He was awarded a BA in philosophy from Stanford University in 1989 and went on to graduate from Stanford Law School sometime in 1992.
Reed Hastings is famed for co-founding Netflix. After graduating from Bowdoin College in 1983, he taught math in Swaziland for two years as a member of the Peace Corps. After that, he graduated with a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford in ’88.
Rachel Maddow first became a public spectacle, when she and a mate volunteered an interview with the school newspaper about being the only two gay freshmen on campus. She later graduated in 1994 with a degree in public policy and today does a nightly talk show on MSNBC.
Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom graduated from Stanford in 2006 with a degree in management science and engineering, and had his first professional experience in the real world as an intern at the startup Odeo, which would later become Twitter.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra became the first woman to manage a Big 8 automaker. She got her MBA from Stanford in 1990, as a result of a fellowship from GM.
Reid Hoffman, co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, also sits on the distinguished board of directors for SixApart and Mozilla Corporation. Before he got his MA in philosophy at Oxford University, Hoffman earned a distinction from Stanford in 1990 with a BS in symbolic systems.
John F. Kennedy was the 35th president of the US and attended Stanford University as a graduate student for a semester in 1940 before going on to join the Navy. In a letter he wrote to a friend, he said, “Have become very fond of Stanford. Everyone is friendly — the gals are quite attractive — and it’s a very good life.”
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