Famous Alumnae: Jennifer Garner

Name your top 5 favorite rom-coms. Now, if the 2000s classic 13 Going on 30  wasn’t on your list, you either haven’t seen it or you have bad taste in rom-coms. Just kidding, but seriously, Jennifer Garner is so good in that movie. Not only is Jennifer a killer actress and absolutely gorgeous, she’s also a philanthropist, mom, and a Pi Beta Phi sister. That’s right, your favorite actress is now your favorite sister. 

Jennifer grew up enjoying theatre, but she was raised in a strict home and didn’t originally major in theatre until a really bad semester of majoring in chemistry at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. It just didn’t call to her, and she found herself really just not caring about being a doctor. So much so that she either skipped class or didn’t pay attention during class. So naturally, she switched to drama because she knew she loved it, even though she never set out to become an actress. And luckily, her parents were cool with it. During her time at Denison, Jennifer had a lot of fun. She joined Pi Beta Phi sorority, loved her major, and even had a side business with her roommate in which they made and sold scrunchies. So srat. 

When talking about her Pi Phi days, Jennifer recalls that she was really bad at going to chapter because her theatre major kept her all sorts of busy. She looks back on it and wishes she had been more involved, saying that she “missed more chapter meetings than I attended, but the girls there are what mattered.” Like a true sorority girl, Jennifer knows that loving your sisters and your sisterhood is what matters most, even if they never see you at chapter. She also has never been a fan of going to parties and said that she doesn’t like being around drunk people because she feels sorry for them because “they’re so uncontrolled and gross and sweaty and about to puke.” So, she spent most of her time in college on the stage. When she wasn’t performing, she was on her way to the theatre in her pajamas with curlers in her hair, most likely running late. “I was a little bit of a disaster,” Jennifer says about herself in college. Aren’t we all, Jen. 

During her undergrad years, Jennifer had plenty of fun even amongst her crazy busy schedule. She’s admitted to being a “serial streaker” several times and had a slightly shady business going with her roommate. Late at night, since they both had keys to the theatre department, they would sneak in and use the sewing machines, leftover elastic, and fabric to make scrunchies. They made every kind, too. They did sorority scrunchies because obviously you can never get enough srat stuff, and scrunchies for nonaffiliated girls who just want a cute way to have a lazy hair day. They went door to door in their dorm and charged people $3 for one scrunchie and $5 for two. They did a pretty killer business, too. I mean, after all, it was the early 90’s. If you can’t sell scrunchies to college girls in the 90’s, that’s a little sad. After college, Jennifer ditched the seedy underground scrunchie manufacturing business life and continued to pursue her acting career by studying at the National Theater Institute in Connecticut. 

When she got her first big role of Sydney Bristow on the hit drama Alias, Jennifer’s career really started to take off.  She starred in hit films such as Dude, Where’s My Car, 13 Going on 30, Pearl Harbor, Catch Me If You Can, Elektra, Juno, Ghost of Girlfriends Past, Valentine’s Day, Dallas Buyers Club, and more recently, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. On the set of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Jennifer costarred with fellow Denison University alum Steve Carell (The Office) though they didn’t go to Denison at the same time. But this gave Jennifer an idea. Working with someone as funny as Steve Carell, Jennifer knew she had to prank him and get him good. So with the help of the crew, fellow cast members, the director, and even Steve’s wife Nancy Walls Carell, Jennifer slowly and subtly placed as much Denison University swag as she could around the set and even his home. Over the course of filming, she had gotten the whole camera crew to wear either a Denison sweatshirt, Denison sweatpants, a Denison hat, or a Denison shirt. The set had little things like the Denison University cookbook on the shelf. She even found an engraved Denison University chair and with the help of Steve’s wife Nancy, managed to get it in Steve’s house. And the best part is, it took him about 2 weeks to even notice. Classic. 

Like a true sorority girl, Jennifer is a super involved activist and philanthropist. She’s been involved with Save the Children, a philanthropy organization that supports and pursues early childhood education and advocates for a better future for children. In fact, Jennifer feels so passionate about the organization and its work, she took her daughter Violet to a gala in New York for Save the Children, which was the first public event she took her daughter to. She wanted her oldest daughter to learn from a young age that she can make a difference. Not only is Jennifer passionate about education for children like her Pi Beta Phi sisters, she’s also an advocate for anti-paparazzi laws that protect children from paparazzi. To Jennifer, it’s ridiculous that these paparazzi will wait outside of her children’s karate classes just to get a picture of her off-guard. She and actress Halle Berry helped get a law passed in the state of California that protects children from harassment by photographers, a common problem for many celebrities with kids. 

Jennifer is still acting, but also spends a lot of her time with her 3 children by taking them to philanthropy events and helping them live as normal lives as best as she can. Way to be, Jennifer.


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