Oprah's Words of Wisdom for College Grads


May 10 2009, Published 8:28 a.m. ET

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Aside from all the memories of their years in college, the students in Duke University's graduating class of 2009 were given one final memorable moment — a graduation speech from none other than Oprah Winfrey.

The talk-show queen was the feature speaker on Sunday at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, North Carolina, where she also was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the esteemed university. Oprah then joked to the crowd that she was going to make everyone call her "doctor" from now on.

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Recognizing that it's not only graduation day, but also Mother's Day, Oprah requested that all the moms in the audience stand so they could receive a much-deserved round of applause.

In her speech, told the outgoing seniors, among whom was William Bumpus, Oprah's godson and the son of her best friend and producer Gayle King, that while she's happy and proud of her financial success, true happiness lies in helping others.

"It's great to have a nice home. It's great to have nice homes! It's great to have a nice home that just escaped the fire in Santa Barbara," she said. "It's great to have a private jet. Anyone that tells you that having your own private jet isn't great is lying to you. You may achieve great things, but you haven't completed the circle of success until you help someone else move to a higher ground and get to a better place."

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That being said, Oprah explained that ultimately you're going to have believe in yourself. "I am who I am because I trust my gut more than anyone else's opinion," she said. "That is my best advice to you — Trust your gut. You know what is right and what is wrong. Trust your gut and stand in your own shoes and you will be a huge success"

She then launched into a laundry list of what is required for a truly successful life.

Gayle King
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"If you can find a way to give back, you will be a huge success...

"If you can summon courage in the face of hardships, I know for sure that you will be a huge success...

"If you can see the possibilities of what you can become and not just what you are, you will be a huge success...

"If you can go through life with humility, you will be a huge success...

"If you can stand in your own shoes, you will be a huge success...

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"If you can be generous enough to say kind, affirming words to those that long to hear them, you will be a huge success."

Of course, Oprah did have a few laughs with the audience. "Everyone always asks me who my favorite guest on the show is, and they always assume it is a movie star. It's not," she explained. "It's actually ordinary people who have accomplished great things.  But if it was a movie star it'd be Hugh Jackman. Ohhhh, and you can imagine why!"

Reporting by Greg Segal


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