I remember last year, while waiting patiently for my chunky chicken salad sandwich at Bruin Cafe, Jordyn Wieber was just casually standing next to me. I didn’t know what to do. Do I say hi? No, that makes me seem creepy. Do I mention something about her gymnastics abilities? Probably not. She’s a regular student, just like me. Except she has a gold medal from the Olympics and arm muscles strong enough to beat me at arm wrestling.
Seeing Jordyn Wieber in everyday clothes and ordering regular food just like me, I wondered what other famous people might have attended UCLA. So, I have done some research and am here to give you a list of some of the most famous UCLA alumni. Not all of them graduated from UCLA (some peeps gotta pursue their dreams, ya know?), but hey, they were Bruins for a coo’ minute so obviously being a Bruin is something to brag about.
Famous UCLA Alumni (who earned a degree from UCLA)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Professional basketball player
Honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, Abdul-Jabbar is an American professional basketball player with a record six-time NBA Most Valuable Player award. He played four seasons for the UCLA Bruins where he was twice named Player of the Year, was a three-time First Team All-American, played on three NCAA champion teams and was recognized as the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament. A legend in both NBA and Bruin history, Abdul-Jabbar earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UCLA in 1969 while being considered the most dominant player in college basketball.
Troy Aikman: Professional football player
As one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history who led the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles, Troy Aikman began his rise to stardom as one of UCLA’s best quarterbacks. Aikman was the first quarterback in UCLA history to lead the Bruins to back-to-back 10-win seasons, along with two bowl victories, and is being honored on Nov. 28 with the retirement of his jersey number. The UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame member participated in graduation ceremonies in front of his mother and three daughters in 2009 after completing his degree in sociology.
Sara Bareilles: Singer-songwriter
This American singer-songwriter who graduated from UCLA in 2003, blew up on the radio with her hit single “Love Song” and has kept a prominent place in the music industry, selling over a million records and being nominated for a Grammy Award five times. While at UCLA, Bareilles was a part of the communication studies program, sung with of the co-ed a cappella group Awaken a Cappella and won the Spring Sing talent show twice.
Brad Delson: Musician
Brad Delson is an American musician known for his role as guitarist in the Grammy Award-winning rock band Linkin Park. Delson was one of the founding members of the band and worked towards a degree in communication studies with a specialization in business and administration when he entered UCLA in 1995. Delson was roommate to future band mate Dave Farrell for three of his four attending years and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Delson graduated summa cum laude from UCLA in 1999.
Mark Harmon: Actor
An American television and movie actor known for his role in the hit crime TV series “NCIS,” Mark Harmon transferred to UCLA in 1972 and was the starting quarterback for the UCLA Bruins football team in 1972 and 1973. Receiving the National Football Foundation Award for All-Round Excellence, Harmon accomplished an amazing 17-5 record and graduated cum laude from UCLA in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies.
Kay and Danielle Panabaker: Actresses
American film and television actresses, Danielle and Kay Panabaker came into the spotlight at a young age. Danielle Panabaker starred in Disney films as a teenager including “Stuck in the Suburbs” and “Sky High.” Kay Panabaker also starred on Disney with a recurring role in “Phil of the Future.” Both sisters later acted together on Disney’s original movie “Read It and Weep.” Astonishingly, Danielle Panabaker received her bachelor’s degree in English from UCLA in 2007 at the young age of 19 while her younger sister, Kay Panabaker, completed her bachelor’s degree in history before she even turned 18!
Gabrielle Union: Actress
An American actress and former model, Gabrielle Union is known for performances as head cheerleader of the East Compton Clovers in the original “Bring It On” and as the sister of Martin Lawrence’s character in “Bad Boys II.” A transfer to UCLA, Union interned at a nearby talent agency where she was later asked to work as a model. Union graduated from UCLA with honors in sociology.
Bill Walton: Professional basketball player
Two-time NBA Champion and retired basketball legend Bill Walton rose to superstardom playing under the coaching of John Wooden at UCLA from 1971 to 1974. During this time, he won three consecutive Naismith College Player of the Year awards as a Bruin. Bill Walton is regarded by some college basketball historians as the greatest player who ever played the game at the college level. Walton graduated from UCLA in 1974 and has been honored with the retirement of his jersey number at UCLA.
Jaleel White: Actor
Jaleel White, famous for his role as the nerdy but charming Steve Urkel in the hit sitcom “Family Matters,” White attended UCLA after the completion of the show and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in film and television in 2001. He continued on with his acting career, starring in “Dreamgirls” alongside Beyonce, and has been featured as a guest on many shows including “Boston Legal,” “House M.D.,” “Psych” and as a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Jamaal Wilkes: Professional basketball player
Former Los Angeles Lakers star and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Wilkes was a key player for the UCLA Bruins, helping the team win consecutive NCAA Championships in 1972 and 1973, and he contributed to an NCAA record 88-game winning streak. Wilkes graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA in 1974 and left the school as a two-time All-American.
More Famous Students/Alumni (who did not or have not yet graduated)
Jack Black (Actor), “School of Rock,” Major: Theater
Nicolas Cage (Actor), “The Rock”
James Dean (Actor), “Rebel Without a Cause,” Major: Theater
Ryan Dusick and Mickey Madden (Musicians), Maroon 5
Mariska Hargitay (Actress), “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” Major: Theater (member of Kappa Kappa Gamma)
Anthony Kiedis (Musician), Red Hot Chili Peppers, studied writing
Heather Locklear (Actress), “Dynasty,” (Pledged Chi Omega and Delta Delta Delta, also model and commercial actor for UCLA Store)
Steve Martin (Actor, comedian), “The Pink Panther,” Major: Theater
Jackie Robinson (Professional baseball player), first African American to play in MLB and UCLA’s first four-sport letter winner
Kristen Stewart (Actress), “The Twilight Saga,” Major: English Literature
Ben Stiller (Actor, comedian), “Zoolander,” Major: Film
Jordyn Wieber (Olympic gymnast), 2012 gold medal-winning U.S. women’s gymnastics team, Major: Psychology
Now we can all sleep comfortably, dreaming of one day becoming just like these successful Bruins.