Many of today’s most famous faces attended some prestigious schools. We know that some people are born leaders, while others’ leadership is cultivated through education and mentorship.
Henry Kravis, who is an alum of Claremont McKenna College and Columbia Business School, says that “leadership is not just about one thing or another; it is about how you live your life every day. In order to have followers you have to have a message, you have to have a vision.” Henry Kravis is one of the founders of private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and a member of the Forbes 400.
Kravis has, on several occasions, given back to the schools that gave him the education he so values. Likewise, Oprah Winfrey has dedicated herself to giving back to education. She attended Tennessee State University on full scholarship, majoring in speech and drama. She has since opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, which offers a quality education for girls who would otherwise not have such an opportunity.
“Can you teach anyone to be a leader?” considers Henry Kravis. “If they don’t have the basic characteristics, I’m not sure you can, but having said that I think what we can do is clearly give leadership characteristics and teach people how to become a better leader if they have those characteristics.”
Other famous leaders, politically and socially, have also honed their abilities with degrees from other four-year universities. President Barack Obama, like Henry Kravis, graduated from Columbia with his degree in Political Science. John McCain had a naval education, receiving his Marine Engineering degree from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He later attended the National War College for graduate work.
Julia Roberts, however, graduated with her degree in Veterinarian Science from Georgia State University before moving to NYC to pursue acting. Adam Sandler, comedic genius, attended NYU and graduated with his Fine Arts degree.
Does a college degree make or break a leader? Certainly not, as many of today’s greatest leaders (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates) never graduated. But as Henry Kravis says, education can help us “understand about leadership… how it works through literature, economics, political science, and make the connection that way.”
Cover Image: Matthew Rolston/OWN