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Oprah to graduates: Serve and the ‘rewards will come’

The entertainer was wildly received at Smith. Pic: Reuters/Brian Snyder.

For a fulfilling life, live with intention and serve, Oprah Winfrey told Smith College graduates during her commencement speech at the liberal arts school on Sunday, The Associated Press reports (via The Washington Post).

The global media leader asked the graduating class in the private women’s college to “shift the paradigm to service and the rewards will come.”

“This understanding that there is an alignment between who you are and what you do is the real, true empowerment,” she said.

Winfrey addressed more than 600 students at the event and took home an honorary degree from Smith. The well-known philanthropist is also the recipient of honorary degrees from Duke University and Harvard University.

In her speech, she also spoke of a turning point in her career when she decided, “I would no longer be used by television; I would use television to create a platform that could be of service to its viewers.”

Smith was not the only school Winfrey gave a commencement speech at last weekend. At New York’s Skidmore College last Saturday, she advised graduates to find their “inner truth” and live a spiritual life, as reported by Fox News.

Winfrey, dubbed the “Queen of all Media”, is best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest-rated TV show of all time. The alum of Tennessee State University heads several media outlets and is North America’s first and only multi-billionaire African-American.

Women as agents of change

Winfrey received an honorary degree. Pic: Reuters/Brian Snyder.

President of Smith’s senior class, Badriyyah Alsabah from Kuwait, said being invited to speak at the same podium as Winfrey was no easy task.

“I was nervous enough,” she noted, with a smile. “But OPRAH, really!? Well, that’s Smith for you!”

Alsabah also gave praise to the graduating class’ body of work to bring change to the school, including calling for trans women to be admitted, as well as supporting undocumented students and students of colour.

You all epitomize what it means to be an agent of change, both accepting and creating it,” she said.

Winfrey pointed out that one such graduating student is her “academy” daughter, Morgan Mpungose.

Mpungose waits for the commencement on Sunday. Pic: Reuters/Brian Snyder.

Mpungose had attended a boarding school that Winfrey had opened for poor girls in South Africa, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy.

The media mogul talked about Mpungose’s transformation during her time at the school, and said the hope of seeing such transformations in other women is what led her to found the academy.

“When you educate a girl, you are not just educating her,” Winfrey said. “You are educating her to create opportunities (for others).”

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