Decades after dropping out of high school in the ninth grade, Mark Wahlberg has finally earned his diploma.
The 2 Guns star shared the news at an event for the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens yesterday, explaining that it's only a mere stroke of luck that his life didn't take the dark turn that many of his friends' did after he dropped out.
"The greatest regret in my life is quitting school. I was lucky, but a lot of my friends who did the same ended up incarcerated or dead," Wahlberg explained.
"Now I have a different perspective: that what's cool in life is being a good person, and doing the right thing. I take any opportunity I can to speak to teens and encourage them, first and foremost, to graduate high school. And today, I'm proud to say I'm leading by example by joining the Class of 2013."
He elaborated in an editorial for The Huffington Post, "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."
"We need everyone — families, leaders, and organizations — to step up and take responsibility for their communities' educational futures," he said.
"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."
The actor explained that it wasn't just personal fulfillment driving him to finish school; he wanted to provide a good example for his kids so that they never give up on their dreams, either.
"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," he said.
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