The media mogul said, 'Ask the question: How can I be used?'
Since mid-May, media mogul Oprah Winfrey has been on a college graduation tour, attending the commencement ceremonies of women who went to the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, a boarding school Winfrey opened in 2007 for disadvantaged girls in South Africa. On May 14, she posted on Instagram that she’d be attending a total of nine graduations this season.
On Sunday, she delivered the commencement address at Smith College, a women’s liberal arts school in Northampton, Massachusetts, where Morgan Mpungose, a former student at Winfrey’s academy, also received her diploma.
Winfrey told the Smith graduates that the secret to success to figure out how to use “your whole self, your being, your full expression, as an offering; as a full open prayer to life.”
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She urged the grads to “shift the paradigm to service:”
In offering advice, Winfrey also reflected on how she found her own answer to that question. When she was about 30 years old, Winfrey interviewed members of the Ku Klux Klan and realized, during the course of the discussion, that they were trying to use her and her show as their “recruitment platform.”
It was at that point that Winfrey decided to “no longer be used by television:”
Afterwards, “my show took off,” Winfrey said. Her eponymous talk show ran for 25 years before ending in 2011.
“When you can create your work and your life based on an intention to serve with purpose—make it your intention to serve through your life with purpose—you will have a blessed life,” she said on Sunday.
Winfrey is worth an estimated $2.8 billion, according to Forbes, and ranked No. 3 on the magazine’s recent list of richest self-made women. She derived much of her fortune from her days as a talk show host, but her empire also includes the OWN television network, O Magazine, and Harpo Productions. Winfrey starred in HBO’s film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which aired in April, and is set to appear as a special contributor on CBS’s 60 Minutes this fall. She also owns a 10% stake in Weight Watchers.
In addition to speaking at Smith’s commencement on Sunday, Winfrey received an honorary doctorate from the college.
“Great day ended with an Honorary Doctorate from Smith,” Winfrey posted on Instagram. “Yes you can call me #Dr.Winfrey.”