Jesuits have been doing this whole education thing for nearly 500 years, and among the more than 2 million alumni of the nation’s Jesuit colleges and universities (think of the powerful network you’d be joining), there is a common theme: Jesuit graduates go on to do amazing things. That includes those who’ve achieved famous status. Read on about 10 of the most famous #JesuitEducated. Whom would you add to the list?
The actor, comedian and writer known best for box office hits like “Caddyshack,” the original “Ghostbusters” and “Lost in Translation,” attended Regis in the late 1960s to study pre-med before following his dream of working in comedy. Regis awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 2007. These days, Murray still acts (usually in friends’ projects as favors), but continues his pop culture reign by showing up in unexpected places and putting his improv skills to work.
As the Catholic Church’s first Jesuit pope, Francis has inspired people of all faith and belief backgrounds worldwide with his message of serving those in need, standing as an example of humility and open-mindedness, and unabashedly speaking his mind. He also has introduced many to the Jesuits and what they stand for: the pursuit of social justice; the concept of contemplatives in action — that we don’t merely think about the world’s problems, but we take action to address them; and that we aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo if it brings about change for the better.
Living a life in service of others is enough to become famous. Just look to the example of this American immunologist who has helped uncover major breakthroughs in the understanding and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Fauci also went to Regis — Regis High School in New York City, an all-boys Jesuit school before attending College of the Holy Cross (also Jesuit) and eventually Cornell Medical School. Fauci has pointed to his Jesuit education, specifically its attention to intellectual rigor and development of the whole person, for enabling him to make an impact.
Known best for his roles in films like “Malcolm X,” “The Hurricane” and “Remember the Titans,” this Academy Award and Golden Globe winner and filmmaker studied the acting craft while at Fordham University, where he earned a bachelor’s in drama and journalism.
Trailblazing is in her DNA. After graduating from the Jesuit Santa Clara University in 1979 (she was the school’s first female valedictorian), Napolitano went on to become Arizona’s first female attorney general and third female governor before becoming the nation’s first female U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. Today she is president of the University of California system.
It was during what he describes as a rough childhood that Dwyane Wade turned to basketball. It landed him a spot on the Marquette University team where he became one of the most decorated players in school history before being drafted by the Miami Heat. Today, he plays for his hometown Chicago Bulls, has three NBA championships, a Finals and All-Star Game MVP, and an Olympic gold medal, among other honors, including recognition for his philanthropic work.
Descartes was a skeptic, and that’s a good thing. A Jesuit education emphasizes the idea of questioning everything, which leads to deeper understanding. It was while attending the Jesuit Collège Royal Henry-Le-Grand at La Flèche that he was introduced to what would become his life’s passions: mathematics and philosophy. He had a penchant for breaking down complex concepts in search of foundational truths. He even questioned his own existence, which led to uncovering arguably his most famous truth, “I think, therefore I am.”
This actress, comedian, writer, director, producer and Golden Globe winner attended the Jesuit Boston College where she earned a bachelor’s in media and communications, and pursued improv, before moving to Chicago to join the famed improv troupe Second City to launch her comedy career. Known for her time on “Saturday Night Live” and “Parks and Recreation,” as well as a handful of box office hits, Poehler also has been named to Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list.
This Olympic swimmer, known best for her world record in the backstroke, made her Olympic debut in 2012, when she was 17 and attending Colorado’s Regis Jesuit High School. Franklin has opened up about her Jesuit experience, saying it brought great meaning to her life and strengthened her faith. She said she pays it forward by living her life as a strong role model for younger generations.
This French writer, historian and philosopher during the Age of Enlightenment was educated by the Jesuits at the Collège Louis-le-Grand and is known for his wit, as well as his arguments for religious tolerance and freedom of thought. He’s best known for “Candide,” a satirical piece that pokes fun at the idea that everything happens, happens for good reason.