Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger

If not for Santa Monica College, Arnold Schwarzenegger may have never become the Terminator. Or the 38th governor of California.

Schwarzenegger, a native of Austria and world champion bodybuilder, moved to the United States at age 21 in 1968 and trained at Gold’s Gym in Venice. Speaking little English, he began taking English as a Second Language classes at nearby Santa Monica College in the early 1970s.

“I started by taking English as a Second Language, because I knew if I wanted to make it in America, I needed to speak English well,” said Schwarzenegger during his commencement speech at Santa Monica College in 2005. “I was scared when I first drove up to Santa Monica College – scared I wouldn't fit in, scared that I would look like an idiot.”

In a 2019 tweet, he said he attended Santa Monica College “to learn English and a counselor convinced me to take math and business classes. That counselor is one of many reasons I don’t call myself self-made.”

Schwarzenegger is among Santa Monica College’s most famous alumni. He seamlessly transitioned from a legendary bodybuilding career to Hollywood, and in 1984 starred in his acting career’s signature role in the science fiction thriller “The Terminator.”

In 2003, he was elected governor of California. He served until 2011.

The world-famous athlete, actor and politician was born in Austria in 1947 and at 20 became the youngest person ever to win the Mr. Universe title. He is widely considered among the most important figures in the history of bodybuilding. Challenging both his body and mind, he earned a college degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1979 and became a U.S. citizen in 1983.