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Tom Hanks: I Owe It All to Community College

January 14, 2015

Tom Hanks  

Whether you know him best from Forrest Gump, Sleepless in Seattle, Saving Private Ryan, Philadelphia, or The da Vinci Code, Tom Hanks is one of the greatest and best-known actors of our time. He has won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, SAG Awards and, most recently in 2014, he received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor. 


And significantly, he recently produced and directed a movie called Larry Crowne, in which he plays an adult student whose life is transformed by a community college.  That film foreshadows a major statement that Hanks made today. This morning in the New York Times, Hanks announced, "I owe it all to community college."


As he explains his college career, Hanks says that he was rejected from two elite institutions before being accepted to Chabot College, which transformed his life.  He credits his community college for training him in the skills that have defined who we know him to be: performance and public speaking. 


If you remember the HBO miniseries John Adams, then you, too, were the direct beneficiary of Hank's time at Chabot. "I produced the HBO miniseries...with an outline format I learned from a pipe-smoking historian, James Coovelis, whose lectures were riveting," Hanks wrote.


As community college educators, there is no better motivation than knowing that not only did one of our institutions contribute so much to creating a true American icon, but that that icon remembers and recognizes and wants the world to know the true value of community colleges.


Hanks mentions President Obama's recent proposal to make community college education free for most students, emphasizing the need for this proposal. He wrote: "I hope the idea sticks, because more veterans, from Iraq and Afghanistan this time, as well as another generation of mothers, single parents and workers who have been out of the job market, need lower obstacles between now and the next chapter of their lives."


Hanks’ op-ed piece can be found by clicking here.