Mark Wahlberg Earns High School Diploma at Age 42, Hopes to Inspire Youth

Image: Mark Wahlberg Earns High School Diploma at Age 42, Hopes to Inspire Youth

Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 12:03 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Mark Wahlberg is officially a high school graduate, finishing his remaining credits this past year.

The accomplished Hollywood actor and producer dropped out of school after ninth grade. Wahlberg discussed the "humbling and challenging" accomplishment in a Huffington Post Op-ed published Monday, encouraging other adults to finish their degrees if they dropped out. 

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"My circumstances were not unlike millions of other teens today," Wahlberg wrote, "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."

The 42-year-old rapper turned actor was the youngest of nine children. He grew up in a working class Irish Catholic family in Boston, Mass.

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

Before making it in Hollywood, Wahlberg admitted to experimenting with drugs, specifically cocaine. He was in trouble with the law on numerous occasions during his youth. He pleaded guilty to assault at one point, and was sentenced to two years in state prison, though he only served 45 days. 

Out of the mistakes he's made throughout his life, he always regretted not finishing school and was determined to finish. 

"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," he said. "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."

Now married to fashion model Rhea Durham, with who he has four children, Wahlberg wants to serve as a role model for children.

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

To make a difference, the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation has teamed up with the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens and its Graduate for Más program to provide "teens AND adults who aren't getting the resources and support they need to succeed," he wrote in the blog post.

In addition to his early years as rapper Marky Mark, known for the 1991 hit "Good Vibrations," Wahlberg is known for his roles in "The Departed," "Boogie Nights," "The Fighter," and "Ted" among others. He is also the executive producer of HBO's "Entourage," and "Boardwalk Empire."

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