Photo of actor William Allen Young

William Allen Young is an acclaimed actor and director, a graduate of the University of Southern California and was twice ranked the No. 1 college speaker in the nation. He says he owes it all to his time at El Camino College.

After a stint in the military, Young knew he wasn’t ready to start immediately at a four-year college or university and instead enrolled at El Camino College, graduating in 1977 with an associate degree in speech communication. He transferred to USC on a full scholarship, earning a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and debate, before continuing his education at Cal State Los Angeles, where he earned a master’s degree in sociolinguistics. 

“Attending a community college was one of the best decisions of my life,” Young said. “During the time I spent at El Camino College, I was mentored and guided by passionate faculty members and counselors who educated and inspired me, helped me develop my talents, and prepared me to transfer to the University of Southern California and realize my life’s dream.”

Young is a prolific actor, with over 100 TV, stage, and film credits to his name. His performances include two Academy Award-nominated films, “A Soldier’s Story” and “District 9,” and has reoccurring roles on “NCIS” and “9-1-1: Lone Star.” 

“The success and national fame I have achieved in my professional career is due in large part to those formative years I spent learning and growing at the community college level,” Young said. “There is no greater education than that which prepares you for success in the world.

For anyone still undecided about higher education, Young believes community college is the perfect place for any student to begin, no matter their background.

“There is no lack of the requirement for you to be excellent, there is no lack of teachers being there to guide you,” he said. “I have a bachelor’s degree from USC and a master’s degree, but my associate degree is the degree I treasure the most.” 

Young is the recipient of the NAACP Outstanding Social Achievement Award and was deemed a “Goodwill Ambassador” by President Clinton, among other awards. Young is also the founder and president of the non-profit The Young Center for Academic and Cultural Enrichment, which serves the needs of low to moderate-income households in underserved communities in California.