Here are 15 UVA alums who you might just recognize! The University of Virginia has always been associated with well known names thanks to its founder, Thomas Jefferson. With the help of two more U.S. Presidents, James Madison and James Monroe, Jefferson laid the cornerstone for what would become not just one of America’s most prestigious public institutions, but the world’s. It should in theory then come as no surprise that in the years to follow, The University has birthed some of the greatest minds and most famous faces. From Pulitzer Prize Winners, to scientists and artists, there is no area that UVA alums have not set out to conquer.
Tina Fey (’92)
- Tina Fey is one of America’s most beloved women in the entertainment industry. As one of the most successful comedians in the industry, Fey has starred on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, brought audiences shows including 30 Rock and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and created the iconic movie, Mean Girls. Her list of professional accolades is astounding with 9 Emmys, 3 Golden Globes, 5 SAGs, and many many more. She was awarded Entertainer of The Year by the Associated Press and is an avid philanthropist supporting Autism Speaks and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Having graduated from UVA with a B.A. in Drama, Fey has certainly inspired many Hoos following in her footsteps.
Edgar Allen Poe (1826)
- Edgar Allen Poe is one of the most famous American writers of the 18th century, and perhaps history more generally. With famous works such as “The Raven,” Poe is one of the most widely studied writers in America literary education. Spending only a year at UVA, Poe was quickly regarded as a genius and well liked despite a general disinterest in his academics. His attraction towards the macabre was also noted during his time on grounds, but did not hold him back from receiving praise from professors, entrance to elite debating clubs, and legendary status on grounds even to this day.
- U.S. President Woodrow Wilson demonstrated a passion for academics steadily throughout his lifetime. Having attended several colleges between his undergraduate and graduate years, The University of Virginia is lucky enough to be among those Universities. After finishing up his undergraduate studies at Princeton University in 1879, he enrolled in UVA’s graduate law school in order to head back to his home state of North Carolina as a practicing lawyer. Accumulating more degrees with time, and eventually going on to serve as Princeton’s president in later years, President Wilson was surely an academic.
- Ralph Sampson is a legendary name among basketball enthusiasts. With a 7’4″ frame this may be of little surprise to many. During his college career he became only the second player ever to win 3 Naismith Awards, and is now a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame. After playing at The University of Virginia, Sampson was selected as the first round first overall draft pick to the NBA by the Houston Rockets, for who he spent most of his professional career playing. A player in the NBA Allstar Game and the winner of Rookie of the Year, Sampson was always a standout. Playing for other teams including the Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings, and the Washington Bullets demonstrated his prestige within the league. Sampson continues to be a supportive alumnus to The University, having recently donated his $25,000 prize from winning Family Feud to the UVA Hospital.
Larry Sabato (’74)
- Larry Sabato is one of UVA’s most famous and beloved professors. But this isn’t necessarily news. Having gone to the University of Virginia himself, Sabato was popular then as well, serving as student body president. He is also considered the most widely quoted political academic in America and is one of the most trusted figures in political campaign analysis. As the founder and director of UVA’s center for politics, he is encouraging new generations of Hoos to become engaged and educated citizens and political scientists.
Katie Couric (’79)
- Katie Couric is considered one of the leading journalists in modern American history. Having graduated from UVA with a degree in American Studies, Couric has gone on to become a household name across the nation. Having spent time as a morning host on NBC’s Today show, she also spent time at the other two largest network news broadcasters in America (ABC & CBS). She has hosted her own talkshow, interviewed Presidents, and been a New York Times Best Selling Author. On top of all of this, she is also the recipient of and Associated Press Award, and an Emmy. Couric has made many a trip back to Charlottesville to visit UVA. She even delivered the 2012 graduation commencement speech.
Sasheer Zamata (’08)
- Sasheer Zamata graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008, taking with her a Bachelor of Arts Degree and leaving behind, a trail a of influence. Going on to star on Saturday Night Live, as a cast member tasked with portrayals as iconic as Michelle Obama, Zamata’s star status is still rising having also landed a role in Amy Schumer’s, I Feel Pretty. While at UVA Zamata founded the now well known improv group, Amuse Bouche. Zamata is also a highly involved representative of the ACLU.
Chris Long (’07)
- Chris Long is a well known American football player who graduated from The University of Virginia with a degree in sociology. Long was recognized during his college years as a first-team All American and was even considered in the voting for a Heisman Trophy. Long was also the first player to ever have his jersey number retired, #91, while still currently playing for the school in 2007 (his senior season). Now, Long plays for the Philadelphia Eagles and is recognized as one of the greatest philanthropists in the league. Long pledged to donate his entire salary for 2017 to different charities. He is also the founder of The Chris Long Foundation which serves to bring fresh drinking water to impoverished areas in Africa.
Sarah Drew (’02)
- Sarah Drew graduated from The University of Virginia in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama. After graduation, Drew has gone on to land roles in hit shows including Mad Men, Glee, and perhaps her now most famous role as April Kepner in Grey’s Anatomy. She has returned to UVA to speak at valedictory exercises, received Emmy nominations, and gone on to start a family of her own, yet still remembering the one she created for herself during her time at UVA.
Robert F. Kennedy (Law ’51)
- Robert F. Kennedy attended The University of Virginia School of Law, and graduated in 1951. A member of the collectively famous Kennedy Family, it is of no surprise that Robert was an extremely influential figure in American politics. He served as the U.S. Attorney General during his brother’s Presidency, and was eventually elected to the Senate as representative for the state of New York. Kennedy was a staunch supporter of the Civil Rights movement and was the father to 11 children with his wife Ethel before his untimely assassination in 1968.
Dawn Staley (’92)
- Dawn Staley graduated from UVA in 1992 with a degree in Rhetoric and Communication Studies, and is one of the most decorated female basketball players of all time and She won ACC athlete of the year as well as national player of the year twice, she held the records for career points and steals, and her jersey was retired. Staley won three olympic gold medals, was chosen to carry the United States flag at the opening ceremony, has medalled in the World Cup, and subsequently gone on to coach the U.S. women’s basketball team at the olympics. She played in the Women’s National Basketball Association, and is now head coach of the University of South Carolina’s women’s team.
- Alfred Berkeley completed his undergraduate studies at The University of Virginia before pursuing a graduate degree in business from the Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania. Although most of what can found about his time at UVA centers around the rotunda, fraternity brothers, and cow (you’ll have to look this one up), Mr. Berkeley has certainly taken the education he received at UVA and put it to good use. He has served as a trustee of Johns Hopkins University, the president of the NASDAQ stock market, and served as a major in the United States Air Force.
Jason Winston George (’94)
- Jason Winston George graduated from the University of Virginia with double majors in Rhetoric and Communication Studies and Drama. Barely 4 years later and he had already begun to make his way up the ladder of roles in Hollywood starting with a guest appearance on Moesha, until recently taking on a starring role as Dr. Ben Warren on Grey’s Anatomy. With a long list of other works to his name, George’s work also extends to film with titles such as Bewitched, Playing for Keeps, and Breaking In on his resume.
Georgia O’Keefe (1912-1914)
- Georgia O’Keefe took on the unique opportunity of studying and teaching at The University of Virginia during the summer months for a couple years. As one of the most renowned artists of the 20th century, O’Keefe is well most well known perhaps for her work on flowers and landscapes. She is the recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom, National Medal of Arts, and an Edward McDowell Medal.
Alexis Ohanian (’05)
- Alexis Ohanian graduated from The University of Virginia with a double major in commerce and history before moving on to become the founder of Reddit. This internet website which is intended to serve as “the face of the internet” was sold to Conde Nast for millions, and Ohanian remained a member of the board of directors. He is has become an extremely successful venture capitalist, entrepreneur, and has been making headlines most recently as a result of his marriage to Serena Williams, the famous American tennis player.