Entertainment Movies Bryce Dallas Howard Graduates from New York University 21 Years After Originally Enrolling "I wasn't at all intimidated by the fact I would be decades older than the majority of graduates," Bryce Dallas Howard said By Dave Quinn Dave Quinn Instagram Twitter Dave Quinn is an Editor for PEOPLE, working across a number of verticals including the Entertainment, Lifestyle and News teams. He joined in 2006 as a Writer/Reporter where he became known for his Bravo and Broadway exclusives across print and digital. Dave is the author of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling book, Not All Diamonds and Rosé: The Inside Story of the Real Housewives from the People Who Lived It. He's appeared on many broadcasts including ABC's Good Morning America, Bravo's Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, E!'s Daily Pop, NBC's New York Live and PEOPLE's own Reality Check, as well as a number of podcasts like Bitch Sesh, Everything Iconic, Watch What Crappens, Hot Off the Mess, Mention It All, and PEOPLE Every Day. Prior to working at PEOPLE, Dave was the chief Theater Reporter for NBC New York and co-host of Entertainment Weekly's acclaimed TV Recaps series. People Editorial Guidelines Published on May 22, 2020 11:23 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Bryce Dallas Howard. Photo: Amanda Edwards/WireImage It took her a little more than two decades, but Bryce Dallas Howard finally has her college degree. The Jurassic World actress, 39, revealed on Instagram Thursday that she has officially graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. "I am so overcome with joy," Howard wrote, explaining that she first enrolled in an undergrad program at NYU in 1999 but "took a leave of absence to start working as an actor." "This has been 21 years in the making," she said. Like most graduates across the country, Howard wasn't able to attend an in-person ceremony due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But that didn't appear to dull her enthusiasm. "It’s been a long dream of mine to complete my formal education and though all of us NYU grads couldn’t wear glorious purple robes together today, I want to say thank you to everyone who supported and encouraged all of us graduates every step of the way," she wore. "To the class of 2020, WE MADE IT 🎉🎓," she added. Obama Gives Commencement Speeches to Coronavirus Class of 2020: 'The World Is Turned Upside Down' In addition to sharing the graduate news, the actress penned a lengthy note to her fellow Tisch Drama graduates. In the message, she explained that she had left NYC ahead of graduating in 2001 because she got an Off-Broadway acting job. "I fully intended on graduating one day," she insisted. "In fact, I continually deferred the following semester and the semesters after that, hoping that instead of 'dropping out,' I was simply taking a 'leave of absence.' Again, and again, and again." Even as she found success on the big screen with movies like The Village (2004), Terminator Salvation (2009) and The Help (2011), the actress said she "legitimately missed school" and hoped to get her master one day, setting big goals in finishing her college education and obtaining her BFA. Howard enrolled part-time at an accredited university and continued to pursue her degree, taking various sociology, psychology, literature and philosophy classes — credits that were transferred back to NYU. And all the while, Howard was evolving her career into directing, writing and producing. The actress even found the time to return to NYU as a teacher, leading the Nine Muses Entertainment Storytelling Lab. But Howard — who married her college sweetheart, Seth Gabel, in 2006, and has "two awesome kids," — stressed that she never lost her goal of getting her degree. "I wasn’t at all intimidated by the fact I would be decades older than the majority of graduates," she said. "My husband and I did the math and realized that many babies born the year I first started NYU were probably graduating alongside me, which made me even more excited. How wild, how weird, and what a great story." "During these last few semesters of teaching I have thought many times, 'Wow, it’s going to be such an amazing experience to graduate alongside so many of my students,' " she added. Bryce Dallas Howard. Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic 8 Ways to Celebrate Your 2020 Graduate at Home — from Virtual Gatherings to Town-Wide Tributes! Her letter also served as a bit of a commencement speech, with Howard dolling out words of wisdom to her fellow graduates. Acknowledging how "overwhelming" it must be to enter the workforce during a pandemic, Howard encouraged her peers to lean on family and friends, especially those who "make you feel alive." "Reach out to people who inspire you, excite you, impress you, fascinate you – folks who might be acquaintances rather than your best friend," she suggested. Reach out to peers and find ways to consistently connect with one another post graduation. "I have no idea what in the world the entertainment and storytelling industry will look like on the other side of this, but I can for sure have a say in the matter of who I am standing beside, and who is standing beside me. You are all going to 'make it.' You just are." "How much success depends on who you surround yourself with," she said. "Think of ways you can support hem. Assist them. Encourage them. Work with them. We can so easily see opportunities for others, and less so for ourselves. This will get you working, creating, generating, connecting, and growing." RELATED: Bryce Dallas Howard Gets Emotional Sharing a Story About A Random Act of Kindness She ended her note by praising her students and peers. "Most of you have accomplished in four years what took me twenty-one," Howard said. "And not only that, you prevailed in the midst of a global pandemic, sitting through Zoom call movement classes, transforming your live work to new mediums, and showing us millennials what the future of creativity and collaboration could look like. You are a creative, innovative, brave, loving, and worthy bunch. I have learned so much from you all, and I am honored to be your collaborator. And I also must say, as your teacher, I am so proud of you." "Though the world and future you are stepping into is ever-changing, I believe you will move forward with the same determination, spirit, humor, and passion that has been required of you in order to simply get through this semester," she concluded. "I hope you know that I am with you, cheering you on, all the way."