Graduation is a memorable day for all college students, but for the 4,600 graduating students at Stanford University on Sunday, it was extra-special, as talk show queen and one-woman media empire Oprah Winfrey delivered an inspiring commencement address on Sunday.
"Feelings are really your GPS system for life," Oprah explained to the students, urging them to, "Check your ego at the door and check your gut instead… Every wrong decision was the result of me not listening to my voice. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it."
Conversely, said Oprah, "when you are doing the work you are meant to do, it feels right."
And while she pushed for the graduates to think of others, by saying, "To move forward, you have to give back," Oprah admitted that she learned the hard way that giving back also requires care and attention.
Speaking candidly to the crowd at Standford Stadium about the abuse scandal that rocked the girls’ school she’d founded in South Africa, Oprah confessed that she focused too intently on superficial matters, like selecting bed linens, and not to the more important matters of staffing.
"I had been paying attention to all of the wrong things," Oprah admitted. "I built a school from the outside in, instead of from the inside out."
Oprah’s decision to speak at Stanford wasn’t motivated by money or publicity, but by family — one of the graduating students was Kirby Bumpus, Oprah’s goddaughter and daughter of her producer and constant companion Gayle King.
"I have pictures that I can e-mail to all of you of Kirby riding horsie with me on all fours," joked Oprah, conjuring up an image these student will likely never forget.