Mark Wahlberg graduated from high school at 42: admirable or self serving?

Mark Wahlberg

I harbor mixed feelings for Mark Wahlberg. On one hand, he’s a messy and cringeworthy drunk who can’t hold his liquor on a UK talk show. His huge ego doesn’t earn him any points either. Remember how Mark beat his chest and claimed that only he would have been able to kill all the 9/11 terrorists if given the opportunity? Not too likeable.

Then there’s the Mark Wahlberg of recent years. He’s given some damn amusing interviews lately. Mark’s pontificated about the state of Justin Bieber to great effect. Mark has also expressed startling lucidity about exactly why The Lone Ranger failed. I’m begrudgingly starting to appreciate Marky Mark. Now he’s revealed his newfound success at graduating from high school at age 42. Damn. This story provides a nice counterpoint to certain other celebrity families who place a negative value upon education. What was Mark’s motivation? His family:

Mark Wahlberg

I never made it past the ninth grade. My circumstances were not unlike millions of other teens today, who live in tough working class neighborhoods surrounded by drugs, violence and crime, and who struggle to stay on the right path without positive influences.

Most high school dropouts don’t end up with successful careers in Hollywood. I was lucky. Compared with high school graduates, dropouts are more likely to be unemployed, in poor health, living in poverty or on public assistance.

And this doesn’t just affect an unlucky few. Every day, 7,000 students drop out of high school – more than 1.2 million a year. More than 40 million adults nationwide lack a high school diploma. These high school dropouts typically earn $200,000 less than high school graduates over their lifetime.

For me, this crisis isn’t just a national problem. It’s entirely personal.

I was fortunate to find out I could attend high school online. For almost a year, I’ve been taking classes and studying any chance I could get – on the set, traveling for work and at home. It has been both humbling and challenging, but I’m happy to report that I am officially a high school graduate, having received my diploma this summer.

It shouldn’t take luck for people to be able to access the education they need to help overcome life’s obstacles. Investment in education is a no-brainer in promoting personal and career growth and supporting our economic recovery.

We need everyone — families, leaders, and organizations — to step up and take responsibility for their communities’ educational futures.

I was able to do it because I knew I wasn’t alone, that other teens and adults were going through the same thing I was in balancing work and family in order to better themselves. To those students struggling every day and – most importantly — to those who are looking for a second chance, I have a message for you: never give up. Keep believing in yourselves and don’t make small plans.

You are not alone. I can now look at my kids every day knowing that I didn’t just do this for me — I did it for them, and I did it for all the other teens and adults who have inspired me by their commitment to graduate.

If we don’t live by example, then what do we live by? I am proud to re-introduce myself to you today as:

Mark Wahlberg – High School Graduating Class of 2013.

[From HuffPo]

At the above link, Mark provides links to several foundations who help dropouts get back in the graduation game. Sure he’s looking at the big picture, but I like how he was primarily motivated to set a good example for his own kids.

Mark also revealed how Denzel Washington was super curious about what Mark was doing in his trailer during their Two Guns downtime. Mark says he didn’t tell Denzel what was up because he didn’t want to face the humiliation if he didn’t end up graduating this year. Yeah I know Wahlberg can be a d-bag, but I’m proud of ol’ Marky Mark. Katy Perry also urged her Twitter followers to “Stay in school!” I sense a turn in the celebrity tide. Say hi to your mom for me.

Here’s some more pics of Marky Mark while he was promoting Pain and Gain earlier this year. You know I couldn’t resist posting a photo of Mark with Dwayne Johnson at the premiere. Apologies for the douchey Michael Bay.

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg

Photos courtesy of WENN

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72 Responses to “Mark Wahlberg graduated from high school at 42: admirable or self serving?”

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  1. Anki says:

    This is awesome! I wish him all the best!

    • LM says:

      I work at the high school that he dropped out of and at the end of last year he dropped by and surprised the kids. He spent about an hour here and spoke to a class about staying in school, avoiding drugs etc. It was really great! I had heard rumors he was taking online classes to finish- glad to hear he did.

    • Violet says:

      Likewise, that’s fantastic!

    • tracking says:

      +1000. Wonderful that he finished and gave such a strong message to kids that are in school and may be struggling now. Awesome.

    • SummerRose says:

      Absolutely! No matter your circumstances, it’s never not admirable to continue getting an education.

    • TherapyCranes says:

      Agreed. This story made me smile.

  2. T.fanty says:

    That’s really great. Congrats to him. What a great message to put out there.

    • Liv says:

      Especially at his age! What a great message – it’s never too late to educate yourself. Much respect.

    • Turtle Dove says:

      I agree 100%.

      Mark has this tough guy image and this message says that if he can do so can you. Love it.

  3. Celeste says:

    Good for him!

  4. Amy says:

    He didn’t have to do this and he didn’t have to talk about it. Sounds like he chose an accredited program (important for anyone who wants to use that GED/HSED to enroll in postsecondary education) and put the time and work into it.

    A powerful message to his children – and to others. It’s probably too much to hope for, but geez, I’d love to see him team up with Gretchen Wilson ( to do some sort of webinar/podcast/PSA for pre-college students.

    PS Beats the snot out of twerking.

  5. Sixer says:

    I know he still lapses into douchecanoe territory from time to time, but he really does seem to have lived and learned.

    I think this is fantastic.

    My husband left school at 16 with nary a qualification worth having. He eventually managed his college degree through the UK’s Open University. It took him the best part of 7 years but was a massive commitment when combined with work, mortgage and two kids.

    • CaribbeanLaura says:

      Man, your husband sounds awesome. And I do appreciate Marky Mark doing this, even though he can be a douche. This is a nice counter to Jaden Smith’s little school sucks twitter thing the other day.

      • Sixer says:

        I think Mr Sixer shows how important it is to have the people close to you put significant value on education for its own self (I do, his parents didn’t). His degree hasn’t made a jot of difference to his work life, but it’s given him confidence, fulfilment, joy, and all sorts of other things that go to making a content and “good” person.

  6. JulieM says:

    Excellent. I don’t get self serving at all. He’s not one of my favorites, but he’s starting to develop into a decent actor. Ex: The Fighter.

  7. lenje says:

    I never had an issue with Mark Wahlberg before, and this makes me respect him more. Regardless of whether the piece above was written by him himself, it’s very inspiring, and the message gets through.

    • gilly says:

      Not to sound combative, but he was a Class A a-hole when he was a young man. PCP, blinding a man, etc. Well documented thuggery.

      • Lucinda says:

        All the more reason to applaud his change of attitude. I particularly appreciate him acknowledging he is the exception and not the rule regarding hs dropouts. So many people like to point to the one random success to justify their lack of education.

      • jaye says:

        And the key phrase in your post is “when he was a young man”. People don’t remain who they were. Why throw their pasts in their faces? He seems to have lived and learned from his mistakes.

  8. Lucy2 says:

    That’s great- he didn’t have to do that, but it was important to him and he stuck with it. I’ glad he’s talking about, especially after Jaden’s stupid comments- maybe he’ll inspire others to finish too.

  9. m says:

    @the drunk thing: Grahmn Norton confirmed that they slipped him something to make him seem super drunk. He wasnt actually that intoxicated.

    • NerdMomma says:

      Uhhh what??? Are you saying they drugged him?

      • CaribbeanLaura says:

        IKR, I doubt that Graham Norton slipped him a roofie, most likely he was making a joke if anything?

    • DreamyK says:

      For reals? That’s terrible. Graham Norton is in rape sloth meme territory now.

    • m says:

      Im being serious. It was a drug that basically made him get drunker a lot faster, no idea what it was though. Apparently the reason for it stemmed from a joke the first time Mark was on the show.

  10. Eleonor says:

    This is cool, and an important message, not only for his children, but even for his fans.

    • janie says:

      I’m proud of him! I heard his mom got hers at 50! Congrats to both! He learns a new word everyday… good model for his kids!

  11. NerdMomma says:

    I will grudgingly say this is very admirable. Not only is he touting the importance of education, he’s walking the walk and doing it himself. Showing that having money isn’t everything- he still wants that degree. And setting a good example for adults who may have dropped out and feel weird about trying to finish in adulthood.

    Now, if he’ll go back and make amends with the people he seriously injured in his youth, I may start to think he’s not such a bad guy. He definitely didn’t stay on the right path, and it would show growth if he’d try to make amends for that.

    • GByeGirl says:

      He can rot in hell as far as I’m concerned, until he makes financial and sincere apologies to his assault victims.

      Guess what? I graduated high school and college and managed to never assault anyone.

  12. j.eyre says:

    I am fairly certain no matter what else goes up today, this will be my favorite post. I like what he said, how he said it and why he said it. Congratulations to him. I think this is a great example and hopefully inspiration.

  13. PinkyTuscadero says:

    son, please tell your friend mark that I said “hi back”

  14. Downton fan says:

    I don’t think it was self serving at all… Specially when he’s putting a great message out there. I must say, I clicked on the Graham Norton show links… Wow was he ever boozy! And on red wine!!! For some reason I find it hilarious that a self proclaimed “tough guy” got so drunk on red wine. I wonder if he got in trouble with his wife… He was really going for Sarah Silverman! Makes you wonder what would he had done if the cameras weren’t there! Tsk tsk

  15. Abby says:

    Way to set an example for his kids and kudos for speaking out about it. Good for him! This is much more impressive than the celebrities who receive “honorary” degrees. That kills me. This is a high school diploma and it sounds like he worked for it.

  16. Kelly says:

    I thought he was going to announce the Funky Bunch were getting back together. Oh well.

    I fear for those who had to share a classroom with him and God bless those who may have suffered through his stupid voiced opinions. Hopefully he took courses online.

    • DeltaJuliet says:

      I get that your making a point, but as I sit here listening to several of my co-workers voicing their uninformed idiot opinions, I have to say, that is part of life. Might as well learn how to deal with it.

    • ORLY says:

      I suppose you didn’t read the story, then.

  17. eliza says:

    I love him. There, I said it.

  18. Say hi to your mother for me says:

    I bet he aced Racism and Misogyny 101. Let me know when he finally apologizes and compensates the man he blinded years ago.

    • msw says:

      I’m no expert on Marky Mark or any of his funky bunches, but didn’t he do both of those things years ago? I thought he had reached put at some point and the guy got a settlement.

      • L says:

        Nope, he’s said in interviews hes never apologized for it and ‘sleeps fine at night’ when it comes to the whole thing.

  19. Faye says:

    Getting a high school diploma at any age is certainly an admirable thing to do. Even if it’s just for publicity, it’s setting a good example. Definitely a good thing.

    But Mark Wahlberg . . .I just cannot with him. This is not some guy who just did some drugs and had a few minor scrapes with the law. This is someone who used to chase and attack African-American children riding their bikes and minding their own business, shouting racial slurs. This is someone who attacked a Vietnamese man so badly the man is permanently blinded in one eye. He proudly admitted to it at the police station and said, “Yeah, that’s the —- (insert racial epithet) I beat up.”

    It’s hard for me to imagine someone who is capable of those kind of things can rehabilitate their true selves that much. And even if it is possible, he has not shown an ounce of true remorse. I remember someone posting a Lara Logan interview with him (here, actually, I think) on 60 minutes where she asks him about the incident, and he basically shrugs his shoulders and says he never reached out to apologize to the guy and doesn’t think about it because “it’s in the past, it’s not who I am anymore.” How can you delude yourself into thinking it’s okay when you haven’t made amends for what you did, or even apologized for it? This is a man with so much -he could have given him money, at least. He’s not legally obligated to, of course, but if he really wanted to atone, since he’s supposedly so religious, he could have done at least that much.

    Maybe I am influenced by my viewpoint – as a Jew just having gone through Yom Kippur, we believe that Yom Kippur does not atone for the sins you did to someone else unless you approach the person and make amends. Not trying to turn this into a religious issue – just saying I find it hard to believe he is really that different. And that’s why I don’t watch his movies. Or feel that a high school diploma makes him a better person.

    • Esmom says:

      Oh, eek, I had no idea about his past, other than some vague impression that he was a delinquent. In any case you are correct that a high school diploma doesn’t make him a better person. Sounds like he’s hoping it will somehow make up for past transgressions, though.

    • Barhey says:

      I support the initiative to make getting through school an important part of our culture. Really, I’m very pleased when anyone steps up to support education – celebrity or not.

      That being said, I agree with Faye. His past is so vile, so horrific and his regret so meager compared to most of the celebrities we hate on that I have to shake my head at the strange double standard.

  20. IWantToLiveInNew York says:

    I only learned how to read last year at 36, after I got a Bachelor’s degree (just scraped through).

    I never could read an instruction, and relied on others to answer my questions about what we had to do for assignments, and the like (never read a text book).

    I could read most of what was in front of me but it never made sense and I would always get lost. I spent a year with an amazing women teaching me. So I think this is a inspiring story.

    Still struggle now and then. The only thing that is still a mystery, grammar.

    • MonicaQ says:

      I went to school to be an English teacher and only learned proper grammar from 6 years of taking German. English teachers don’t have time to teach grammar anymore–we have to teach a test so we don’t get fired.

    • INeedANap says:

      Well your grammar here is pretty good! And it was incredibly resilient of you to learn to read. Many congratulations to you, keep it up!

    • Malificent says:

      Good on you for taking the bull by the horns, and not giving up!

      You’re not alone. There are many, many people in many walks of life who are not functionally literate. They spend a great deal of time and energy (and intelligence) to hide or to work around this limitation. I used to tutor a guy who was very successful and owned his own business — but needed his assistant to read and write everything for him.

      And my mom dropped out of high school, in part to help care for her dying mother. But also because she grew up in a family that didn’t value education. My mom is whip-smart and the most capable person I know, but her life options were limited. She taught all of us kids to value education, so that we could have choices that she didnt’t. Even most skilled trades are closed to people without a solid primary education.

      Good on Mark!

  21. Renee says:

    Faye, Shana Tova, Tikatevu.

    Thank you for your thoughtful and measured response. I feel this way about him too, I can’t watch his films and I feel self-loathing when I do click on stories about him. His victims are likely psychologically scarred by his behavior and in the case of the man that he blinded, maimed/disabled for life. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my life altered in this way, having to negotiate an injury that was the result of someone else’s deliberate, hateful actions. I can’t with this guy, it would be one thing if he refrained from reaching out to this man because he was so ashamed of his past actions but it seems to be more of his just not wanting to be brought down by stuff that happened in his past because he doesn’t feel that it warrants further examination or attention. His dismissive attitude to me suggests that he still holds those
    (racist) views towards people of color.

    • Faye says:

      Thanks, Renee, to you as well! I agree that it’s almost impossible to imagine what his victim has to live with. And to add insult to injury, he has to live with the knowledge that the person who did this to him is living the good life as a celebrity, and openly admits that he feels no remorse about it and doesn’t even give it another thought.

  22. Miss M says:

    Admirable, no doubt!

  23. dante says:

    I think it’s admirable for someone with this much success, and such a long and varied career, to make a point of letting the world know that something so humble can be of such importance. Even if you have misgivings about his past, there’s a decent message in this, one that is worthwhile and noteworthy.

  24. Jennifer says:

    I love that he did it and shined a light on a social problem at the same time. Well done!

  25. Lflips says:

    I will never deride someone for getting an education; good for him.

  26. Karen81 says:

    Takes a lot to courage to go back as an adult and finish college let alone high school. Kudos to him!

  27. IceQueen says:

    Better late than never. Congrats!

  28. Gia says:

    Oh ffs… A high school diploma at his age is no amazing feat…nor is it at any age. People are far too quick to praise for menial accomplishments. You have to be a pretty, lazy f-ck up to not get your high school diploma.

    • Dia says:

      ^^^THIS^^^ I was thinking the same thing!

    • Shay Kay says:

      IMO there are people without high school diplomas that aren’t “lazy.” Graduation and the lack thereof depends on the circumstances, financially, socially, and personally at your disposal. Broadly stating that receiving a HS diploma is “no big deal” makes me wonder if you’ve considered some of the very real problems that he, and others on this thread, have pointed out? IMO it is exactly attitudes like yours that make others ashamed of their lack of a diploma to the point of hiding it. Believe it or not a little understanding and a kind word can make a difference in how others view themselves.

    • TherapyCranes says:

      People aren’t praising him for being smart enough to finish high school they’re praising him for getting it done even though it’s a humbling experience. He should have stuck it through but didn’t. He is a grown man and on top of that a macho celebrity so for him to go back and get a diploma shows that he is trying to better himself. There is no reason not to praise him.

  29. Lucy says:

    Good for him!!

  30. TheOriginalKitten says:

    Props to him. Good message to be putting out there.

  31. T. Fanty Fan says:

    I think it is wonderful that he graduated after all these years! Good for him!

  32. bijlee says:

    THIS is a good thing. Yo Justin! Yo Chris Brown! Where you douchebags at? Listen to him! Make present day Marky Mark your role model. Please.

  33. serena says:

    I’ve always liked him, he can be a little of a douchebag at times but he’s a nice hot guy. Now I’m proud of him, that’s how celebrities should talk nowadays. And it’s not easy to graduate at 42 so props to him, congrats!

  34. tc says:

    I can’t believe most of the comments in this thread. Are people seriously praising this man? He committed a hate crime. He never apologized. Tom Hiddleston rattles on and there are 90 comments ripping him apart. Gwyneth Paltrow recommends gold-plated toothbrushes or whatever and again, 90 comments dripping with vitriol. But for an actual thug, a criminal – nothing. UGH.

    • dzee says:

      I don’t get the praise either. and what baffles me is the seemingly *undeserved* vitriol that other celebs get on here just for being vapid/narcissistic but never violent committing such appalling atrocities like he has. This guy gets more of a pass than the kk clan, and I’m by no means defending them, I can’t stand them either but you’ve never heard of one of them putting someone’s eye out or throwing rocks at them because of his/her skin color.

    • Claudia says:

      Yeah, I’m uncomfortable with all of this. His message is great– don’t get me wrong– and I thought it was very well-written… but this guy has a past so incredibly troubled that it’s hard for me to get past that. He was a violent, racist thug, and as he’s stated in many, many interviews– he’s never apologized for it.

    • Green Girl says:

      Right there with you. While I’m glad he graduated from high school, a part of me really wishes it could be just about any other celebrity on the planet.

  35. eliza says:

    While actions from his past are reprehensible and I can’t speak to his specific situation, I do believe that people can change, and change dramatically. I have met and worked with a lot of them. It’s possible, just not common unfortunately.