Public Higher Education Superstars


California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Secretary of Labor

Hilda Lucia Solis (born October 20, 1957) is the current United States Secretary of Labor. She served in the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2009, representing the 31st and 32nd congressional districts of California. Solis was born and raised in California by immigrant parents from Nicaragua and Mexico. She earned degrees from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and the University of Southern California. She was elected to the Rio Hondo Community College board of trustees in 1985, the California state assembly in 1992, and the California state senate in 1994. She is known for her commitment to environmental justice and was the first female recipient of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000.


OPRAH WINFREYTennessee State University at Nashville

Entrepreneur, Educator and Philanthropist

Oprah Gail Winfrey (born January 29, 1954) is a media personality, actress, producer, literary critic, magazine publisher and philanthropist. She is best known for her self-titled, multi-award winning talk show, which is the highest-rated program of its kind in history. Winfrey landed a job in radio while still in high school and began co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19. She later took over a local Chicago talk show, eventually boosting it to first place in the ratings. Afterwards she launched her own production company and became internationally syndicated. She is now considered one of the most influential women in the world. Winfrey is a graduate of Tennessee State University at Nashville.


Hunter College/CUNY

Nobel Prize in Medicine, 1988

Gertrude Belle Elion (January 23, 1918 - February 21, 1999) was an American biochemist and pharmacologist who helped develop drugs to combat leukemia, gout, malaria, herpes and auto-immune disorders. Elion and collaborator George H. Hitchings used innovative research methods that later led to the development of the AIDS drug AZT. Born in New York City to Jewish immigrant parents, she graduated from Hunter College in 1937 and New York University in 1941. Though never obtaining a formal Ph.D., Elion went on to become one of the nation's most distinguished research scientists. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1988.


University of Alabama

University of Houston, MS

CEO, PricewaterhouseCoopers International

Samuel A. DiPiazza, Jr. is the Chief Executive Officer of PricewaterhouseCoopers International. He received a dual degree in accounting/economics from the University of Alabama and an M.S. in tax accounting from the University of Houston. DiPiazza joined Coopers & Lybrand in 1973 and became a partner in 1979. He was elected to the Firm Council in 1986 and headed the Birmingham, Alabama, and Chicago offices before being named midwest regional managing partner in 1992. Following the merger of Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse in 1998, he was named the Americas leader for tax and legal services for PricewaterhouseCoopers and in 2000 he was elected chairman and senior partner of the U.S. firm.


UC Berkeley, Ph.D

Secretary of Energy

Nobel Prize in Physics, 1997

Steven Chu (born February 2, 1948) is an American physicist and the current United States Secretary of Energy. Chu is known for his research in cooling and trapping of atoms with laser light, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997. At the time of his appointment as Energy Secretary, he was a professor of physics and molecular and cellular biology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also earned a Ph.D. in 1976, and the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is a vocal advocate for more research into alternative energy and nuclear power, arguing that a shift away from fossil fuels is essential to combat global warming.


U.S. Military Academy at West Point

President of the United States

Dwight David Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 - March 28, 1969) was the 34th president of the United States from 1953-1961. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Eisenhower was also a five-star general in the United States Army. During the second World War, he served as the Supreme Commander of Allied forces and was responsible for planning and supervising the invasions of France and Germany. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO. As President, he oversaw the cease-fire of the Korean War, maintained pressure on the Soviet Union during the Cold War, initiated the creation of NASA, expanded Social Security and began the Interstate Highway System.


Lincoln University, Pennsylvania

U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 - January 24, 1993) was a jurist and the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. He graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1930 and then received a law degree from Howard University in 1933. As an attorney, Marshall fought for the rights of African-Americans and served as chief counsel for the N.A.A.C.P. for nearly two decades. His most prominent victory as a lawyer occurred in 1954 when he argued successfully in front of the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education. Marshall became a judge in 1961 when he was nominated to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Lyndon Johnson in 1967.


Washington State University

Pioneering Journalist

Edward R. Murrow (April 25, 1908 - April 27, 1965) was a broadcast journalist. Murrow first came to prominence with a series of radio news broadcasts from London during World War II, which were followed by millions of listeners in the United States and Canada. Often considered one of journalism's greatest figures, Murrow was known for his honesty and integrity in delivering the news. A pioneer of television news broadcasting, Murrow produced a series of TV news reports that helped lead to the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy. He graduated from WashingtonState College in 1930.