Barack Obama majored in political science with a specialty in international relations. In a speech at the University of Indonesia, he said that his studies had led him to believe “that the world is more complicated and difficult than I had imagined.” He graduated with a B.A. from Columbia University in 1983.
He received his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School in 1991 and returned to Chicago to practice civil rights law.
In addition, he was also interested in how government worked, which led him to work for a community organizer named Jerry Kellman after graduation. His job was to help set up schools and organize food programs for poor families.
In his second year of college, Obama struggled with drugs and alcohol, but he later quit drinking altogether. He also gave up smoking cigarettes when he met Michelle Robinson while they were both students at Harvard Law School.
Obama’s political career started while he was still living in Chicago, when he became involved with the Illinois Public Action Council (IPAC), an organization that helped register voters and educate them on issues such as housing and health care. He also worked as a consultant for the Gamaliel Foundation, which works with unions to fight poverty and improve education programs for disadvantaged children.