Lester Holt’s Education: Where Did the ‘NBC Nightly News’ Anchor Go to College?

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Lester Holt speaks onstage at the 49th USO Armed Forces Gala Gold Medal Dinner in 2010. (Getty)

NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt is the moderator of the first 2016 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. What is his background, especially when it comes to education? Where did he go to college?

Holt attended California State University, Sacramento. He studied government while in school, but he did not graduate. That’s because he dropped out of school in his junior year in order to take a job working at KCBS, a California radio station, according to the Sacramento Bee.

At the time, Holt’s parents were concerned about him dropping out, especially his mother.

“She predicted poverty and failure,” Holt’s father said of his wife, the Sacramento Bee reports. Obviously, this did not end up being the case, and 18 months after leaving school, Holt moved to New York City to work for CBS.

In 2015, Holt returned to California State University, Sacramento to receive an honorary doctorate. He also spoke to students about his experience in college and in the broadcast journalism industry.

“I began with dreams of being a big-time disc jockey, but it was at SacState that I was exposed to journalism, and it was there that my interest and my focus really narrowed in on becoming a news person,” he told students in his speech.

He also said that part of him does wish he had completed college.

“There have been many times over the last 36 years that I wished I had completed my formal studies, but I hold my head high and I accept that things happen for a reason,” he said. “And to be truthful, I would not trade anything for the life experiences that this job has allowed me to have.”

Holt feels that he in some way completed his education through working in journalism, and given his incredible experience, it’s difficult to dispute that. After moving to New York, Holt spent 19 years working with CBS. He then moved back to California to work for KNXT in Los Angeles, returning to New York the following year and then moving to Chicago. In 2003, he began working full-time for NBC News.

Not just talking about the news from behind a desk in a studio, Holt has been out in the field covering the war in Afghanistan, the Egyptian revolution in Cairo, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and Hurricane Katrina among many other eventful stories, according to Today News.

Holt has received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and honorary doctorates from Pepperdine University and California State University, Sacramento. When Brian Williams departed NBC Nightly News amid scandal in 2015, Holt took over as a temporary replacement, and he later became the permanent new host.

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