At first it might seem like an unusual choice. Someone who had dropped out of your university being invited back years later to give a commencement address.

That’s exactly what is happening at Drew University, the private school in Madison, New Jersey. A student who enrolled in 1995 but didn’t see it through to the end and quit school instead is speaking to its graduating class this year.

But it’s not just anyone. It’s actor James Van Der Beek.

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He left Drew University behind when he was offered the lead role in what became the hit television series “Dawson’s Creek.” Think about it. If it were the sheepskin or the spotlight to launch your acting career, it makes sense.

The show ran from 1998 to 2003. It made Van Der Beek a star. Which led to projects like “The Rules of Attraction” and “Varsity Blues.” According to, he amassed an $8 million fortune. Could anyone really say he didn’t do the right thing?

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The 47-year-old actor will receive an honorary Bachelor of Arts degree as well as making his commencement speech.

Other speakers that day include the former general secretary and head of United Women in Faith, Harriett Jane Olson, and Drew professor of literary studies, Laura Winters. The ceremonies are scheduled for May 10 and May 11. 

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The show “Dawson’s Creek” also starred Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson and Michelle Williams and centered around four teenage friends in a small Massachusetts town.

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