It must be something in the water, earlier in the week, Ben Affleck received a doctor’s degree from Brown University and now Oprah Winfrey, who is not only a TV icon is also now a doctor, of Law.
Although, sorry Ben, she got hers from Harvard!
The lady who owns Harpo productions, Oprah’s Angel Network, which was created in 1998 and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network,created in 2011 attended th 362nd commencement ceremonies in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
While she was there she was given an an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the university during Thursday morning exercises on campus. The inspiration to women everywhere was the featured speaker during the afternoon part of the exercises, She addressed the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association. (Live stream available.)
Like everything else this remarkable woman does she freely expressed her enthusiasm. She started her speech with, “Oh my goodness. I’m at HAAAARVARD! Not too many girls from rural Mississippi have made it all the way here to Cambridge. … I consider today to be a defining milestone…”
She said she realised that, “while I may not have graduated from here, my personality is about as Harvard as they come.” She went on to cite her career in television, “pushing, pushing, pushing myself.”
Oprah then went onto talk about her recently created network, OWN. She said that during the first year of the network’s existence she felt, “stressed” and “frustrated.” She went on to say, “I thought I’m going to turn this thing around and be better for it. I have turned that network around!”
Ms Winfrey’s message was, “It doesn’t matter how far you might rise because at some point you might stumble. … And when you (fall), there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction. When you’re down in the hole, it might look like failure. … Give yourself time to mourn what you think you may have lost. Then, here’s the key: Learn from every mistake. Each mistake will force you to learn who you really are. … And then figure out what is the next right move.”
She went on to add, “Now and forever more when you Google yourself the results will always read Harvard 2013, and that really is a calling card.”
Oprah urged her audience to bring about change. She said, “You now have a chance to better your life, the life of your neighbors and that of our country… When you do that, that’s when your story gets really good.”
She told a familiar story, “I have to say the single most important lesson I learned in 25 years is there’s a common denominator in our experience. … We want to be validated. We want to be understood. I’ve done over 35,000 interviews in my career and as soon as that camera shuts off, everyone always turns to me and says, ‘Was that OK?” I heard it from President Bush. I heard it from President Obama… I even heard it from Beyoncé in all her Beyoncéness!”
No one could be more validated than Oprah Winfrey. Honorary doctor’s degree aside, she has worked her way up through an industry that does not offer too many chances to women. It is through her own hard work that she has moved up to the top and become an icon in the television world as well as other branches of the media.
She gave some very personal advice to the listening students at Harvard. Advice that she must know works.
Ms Winfrey told the students to get off facebook and other social networking sites and to go out and talk to people. To have real conversations with their fellow man. She said, “Look them in the eye. There’s a light inside each of you that illuminates your very human beingness…. You all might have a little anxiety now … but no matter what challenges or setbacks you encounter along the way.
She added that they needed to keep in mind one goal, saying that ” Everyone should strive to be the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being. You want to max out your humanity.”
Harvard President Drew Faust said in March that Oprah is one of the great American success stories. Forbes has listed her as the 11th most powerful woman in the world last year. She has a net worth of $2.7 billion.
For someone who came from grinding poverty and being sexually abused as a child to go on and become on of the most powerful and influential woman in the world, the degree seems perfectly fitting.
There are not many women in the world like Oprah Winfrey. It would also be true to say that there are not that many people like her. She is not only an icon on TV but now she has been given the high honour of an honorary doctor of law degree. As if she wasn’t impressive enough already.
By Michael Smith