Oprah may be the epitome of black girl magic but even she can’t get enough of the amazing accomplishments from young black girls around the country. So she’s joining in on the celebration.
This graduation season, the queen of media herself is going to commencement ceremonies for all of the young women who attended the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa and are graduating from American colleges or universities this year.
Oprah ― who opened the academy in 2007 to provide young women in the country with an opportunity to learn, grow and graduate high school ― said she wants to support each of the nine academy alumni who will receive college degrees in the U.S. this year, marking a special moment not just for the girls but one for Oprah, too.
“Seeing these students walk across the stage at graduation and accept their diploma – I am filled with a pride I didn’t know existed,” Oprah told HuffPost. “I would have to say it’s one the biggest rewards in my life – to see these girls become the women I always knew they would become.”
So far, Oprah has traveled across states to attend six graduation ceremonies, three of which she was chosen to be a guest commencement speaker, including: Agnes Scott College, Smith College, and Skidmore college. She also attended ceremonies at Johnson C. Smith University, Elon University, and Colorado College.
This is the second year that 100 percent of the OWLAG graduates who have completed their studies and earned degrees in America. There are currently 16 young women who are attending colleges or universities in the states. To date, there is a total of 393 OWLAG graduates who have gone to colleges and universities around the world and 310 students who are currently in attendance.
Over the years, Oprah says she has done her best to establish strong relationships with each of the girls. They call her “Mom Oprah” and she calls them her “daughter girls.” They also text and FaceTime her frequently and try to visit her during holidays, building a special bond with an inspirational woman who not only looks like them but who also provides them with opportunities to help them each live their best lives.
“I opened my school for girls in South Africa because it has been shown throughout the world that when you impact a girl’s life through education, that opportunity is given back to her, her family and her community,” Oprah said.
“I have always tried to be there for my girls over the years, spending time with them, talking about their hopes, fears and aspirations, and sharing life lessons I’ve learned along the way,” she added. “I want them to know they have my support in all of the big and smallest of ways.”