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Grads say Oprah inspires

San Jose Mercury News - CA, USA - Media superstar Oprah Winfrey delivered Stanford University's 117th Commencement address Sunday, telling nearly 4,700 graduates: Trust your gut.

"When you are doing the work you are meant to do, it feels right," she said, as the Class of 2008 snapped photographs with their cell phones and tossed beach balls to each other in the warm morning sun. "Feelings are really your GPS system for life. 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."

At the first commencement ceremony to be held in the new Stanford Stadium, Winfrey spoke about the need to be open to life's numerous lessons - and the importance of feelings, learning from failure and finding happiness.

In a speech that was both personal and humorous, she spoke about her early days as a television news anchor in Baltimore. It was rough: Her boss didn't think anyone would remember the name Oprah and wanted her to change her name to Susie. He also sent her to a salon because he didn't like the way she looked.

"Do I look like a Susie to you?" she said to laughter.

Her gut told her that things weren't right. She lost the news anchoring job after eight months - but found her calling as a talk show host. It was there that she realized television could be a platform for public service, she said.

Winfrey also said that failure was "life's way of saying that it's time to change course."

She spoke about how she built a school for girls in South Africa and spent time and energy picking out sheets and pillows, only to learn later that one of the dorm matrons had been accused of sexual abuse.

"I had been paying attention to all of the wrong things," Winfrey said. "I built a school from the outside in, instead of from the inside out."

She also talked about finding happiness, imploring graduates not to live for themselves alone.

"To move forward, you have to give back," Winfrey said, as the crowd of nearly 30,000 broke into wild applause. "To be happy, you have to give something back."

Of the graduates, 1,702 earned bachelor's degrees, 2,017 master's degrees and 947 doctorates.

Many graduates said they were moved by Winfrey's speech.

"It was extremely inspirational," said engineering graduate Samantha Cunningham, 22, of Alabama. "She was very humble."

Her friend Naima Green, 22, agreed.
Source : Originally Published San Jose Mercury News - CA, USA, Jun 16, 2008
Celebrities : Oprah Winfrey
Categories : Actor News, TV Personalities, Celebrity News
Posted 6/16/2008 01:06:16 AM | Permalink
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