Mark Wahlberg recently became a high school graduate at 42 after having dropped out in the ninth grade during his youth.

Wahlberg’s childhood in Boston included multiple run-ins with the law in an urban culture where drugs and violence thrived. The actor believes that he grew up in a situation that’s similar to those of countless others trying to get by.

"My circumstances were not unlike millions of other teens today, who live in tough working-class neighborhoods surrounded by drugs, violence and crime, and who struggle to stay on the right path without positive influences," Wahlberg wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed.

Thankful for the good fortune of ascending to a career as a successful movie star, he wants kids who are growing up as he did to value the chance at education and believe that they have a shot at doing whatever they want to do. He wants to be an example to the unnamed millions, as well as to the four children he has with wife Rhea Durham.

"I didn't want the kids saying, 'You didn't do it, so why do I need it?'" he said. "They are all wanting to do things in their future that require an education."

After finding the resolve to get a high school diploma, Wahlberg began taking online classes. He managed to balance commitments to his film career as he simultaneously spent time on his studies. While filming Two Guns with Denzel Washington, Wahlberg had a tutor to work with him in between takes, he told People.

Armed with his new high school diploma, Wahlberg has forged a partnership between his Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation and the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens’ Graduate for Mas program. At an event for the cause in Irvine, Calif., Wahlberg gave out scholarships to selected Taco Bell employees.

– Chelsea Regan

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