The Master of Degrees is a ‘working class hero’ who originally appeared in the graphic novel The Adventures of Unemployed Man but who has since leaped off of the page and into the real world, where he has become a symbol of popular resistance against the crippling effects of student loan debt. The character has been embodied by at least 5 different people and appeared in over 100 news articles.  

“Forget the ballerina on the bull. The iconic image of the Occupy encampments is a Zorro-masked Gan Golan as the Unemployed Superhero, caped but grounded by a ball and chain marked STUDENT LOANS... 
...The costume contained the whole sprawling critique in one playful package: the recession, finance run amok, captured regulators, the betrayal and wasting away of the middle class. It was a comic book version of the message delivered by the Occupy kids who took a page from history and “did knowingly mutilate” their monthly student loan statements — from LA to DC like draft cards they burned.“ ”-



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CBS News:  Tall and young, clad in a black cape and a black mask, he calls himself the "Master of Degrees,” one of America’s “millions of unemployed superheroes. “My actual degree is in urban planning and international development from MIT,” says Master, showing me the papier-mache ball and chain attached to his belt.

“I’m fighting to free the next generation of students from debt slavery.”

He says young people, like those in the Occupy Wall Street movement, have taken out massive student loans only to find they have no means to pay them back once they enter the workforce.“The problem is that we’re having an entire generation of people who cannot choose to do work for social good. They can’t be pro bono lawyers, they can’t go teach in inner city schools to teach English, because they won’t be able to afford it. They’re going to have to be paying back their debt instead of actually investing their passion and their labor in renewing America as every generation of youth does.” But Master is a little more practical than his fellow protesters on Wall Street, which explains why he’s here at the Rebuild the Dream rally. He says there are policy solutions to these problems.

“We need to eliminate the corporate loan agencies that are gouging students." 

Still, Master says that beyond the policy goals, the meaning of this movement is, well, more meaningful. "I think what the kids on the street are asking for is for us to reevaluate not just our policies but our entire value system from the ground up,” he says. “They’re looking for a cultural change, more than just a policy or a political change.”

WTOP, Washington DC: The “master” also spoke about what reforms are needed in the country’s education system. 


"We need to take the private lenders who are taking money from taxpayers out of the equation,“ he says. "We need to stop treating education as a business.”


Photo:Associated Press

Photo:Associated Press

Master of Degrees has appeared in over 100 news articles. Here are just a few: