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Entries in Graduation (2)

Wednesday
May302012

Chinese Students Leave University in the Dust…Literally

CEN(LIAONING, China) -- As summer starts, Chinese students from Liaoning province are leaving their college … in the dust.

It looks like these students in northern China are celebrating the end, literally, of their school as it goes up in smoke. Rather harsh, no matter how happy they are to be leaving. Seniors from China’s Dalian University of Technology City College in Liaoning province, are seen in a widely dispersed online photo dressed in graduation day gowns and joyfully tossing their caps into the air. With smiles on their faces they appear as fresh-faced and full of hope as any happy student headed out into the world should be on his or her big day.

But behind them, just steps from their classroom buildings, a massive, black cloud of smoke rises into the air. Reports are a warehouse just behind university buildings caught fire on graduation day. The sequence of events suggest that the fire started just as students prepared to head to graduation ceremonies. As students were evacuated, a group stopped to snap photos. The visual effect makes it appear as if the university itself is going up in smoke, and its students could not be happier.

In China, where the rigor and competitive nature of academic study is widely known to be among the most intense in the world, the photo caused quite a sensation. The photo, and others from the same scene, went viral and according to the Daily Mail were forwarded 3,000 times in two hours.

The student who uploaded the photos, Netizen ‘Brent-J’, also posted the following caption, “It’s too big a coincidence to see the university on fire today, the students are filled with love in seeing the school burn.”

University officials were not pleased with the suggestion that students would celebrate the school’s destruction. They released subsequent photos of students helping to put out the fire on the college website and the statement that they “show the true spirit of the college. Our students should not be celebrating destruction.”

Either way, for the group of students in the photo school is definitely out for summer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan142012

72 Students Graduate from Oprah 's Leadership Academy

Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images(HENLEY-ON-KLIP, South Africa) -- To most people Oprah Winfrey is known as one of the world's most powerful media moguls. But to the students who attend her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa, she's simply "Mom Oprah."

Like any parent, Winfrey beamed and cried as she watched 72 of her "daughters," the school's first class, graduate today.

The young women were dressed impeccably in a uniform of white dresses and matching white heels. They sang a song of gratitude and celebration in Zulu, a South African language. Family and friends cheered as each girl accepted her diploma.

"The pride that I feel today is overpowering," Winfrey said during her graduation speech. "I have been on a mission my whole life to be able to give back what I have been given. Today I am fulfilling that mission."

The opening of the $40 million school, which is located an hour outside of Johannesburg in the small town of Henley-on-Klip, opened in 2007. Since its opening, the academy has faced challenges including accusations of abuse from a school official and the birth of a dead baby to one of the students. Even with the controversies, all but three of the original class of students is graduating, and all the graduates have been accepted to college.

Winfrey has invested her money and time into the project, insuring that the students have everything they need to concentrate on their education. The school is spread over 52 acres and features world-class amenities, including a state of the art library and fully-equipped dorm rooms.

Some of the 400 girls come from homes so poor they didn't even have their own beds. Mashadi Kekana grew up in Alexandria, one of South Africa's most impoverished and violent townships. During her interview five years ago, she told Winfrey that if she was accepted she would never let the talk show host down.

Today Kekana graduated as one of the school's top students and will be heading to the United States to attend Wellesley College in Massachusetts next fall on a full scholarship.

"Mom Oprah, thank you for showing us that we're not just girls, but girls who have greater purpose in this world," said Kekana in her graduation address as Winfrey's eyes welled up with tears.

Winfrey stressed that even though the journey at her school is ending for these young women, she expects them to achieve even greater accomplishments in college and beyond.

"When you invest in the leadership of girls you invest in a nation," said Winfrey. "Every one of these girls is going to serve themselves, their family, community and country in ways that are yet to amaze you."

Education for girls in Sub-Saharan Africa lags far behind the rest of the world. About one in three girls finish high school, according to the South African government.

Tabitha Ramotwala, a graduate who recently found out she was accepted to Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, told ABC News she believes the success of Winfrey's school "shows the world that there's a lot of potential that can be tapped into."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio