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Entries in Oprah Winfrey (3)

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

Friday
Jan132012

Oprah's Academy for Girls to Hold Its First Graduation

Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Oprah Winfrey is set to graduate the first class of her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls on Saturday, a 10-year journey that has been filled with tears, trials and triumph, she told ABC News' Diane Sawyer.

"I've learned so much. ... I would do it differently but the fact that we are here is a triumph," Winfrey said in a wide-ranging interview that touched on her own future in TV.

"This has been a journey of 8,000 miles," she said Friday. "Tomorrow, for me, is about celebrating the journey this has been."

In January 2007, the talk show host opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls on 52 acres in the small town of Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg, South Africa. It took $40 million and six years to build.

At the time, Winfrey called the school -- a promise to herself and to former South African President Nelson Mandela -- "the fulfillment of my work on Earth."

Of the nearly 3,000 applicants, 152 of the country's brightest young girls were selected to attend the boarding school. The school currently has around 400 students.

Winfrey said Friday that despite their traumatic backgrounds, the students pushed forward and succeeded. All of them are headed to college, with 10 percent bound for a U.S. university.

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Winfrey's school has presented her with its own challenges as well.

In November 2007, allegations of sexual and physical abuse by a school matron arose. The school matron was dismissed and then charged with molesting several girls. Winfrey flew to South Africa, apologizing to the students and parents and praising the girls who'd come forward to report the abuse. The school went on to flourish despite the early setbacks, becoming an even stronger learning institution as they grew over the years.

The matron was acquitted in October 2010.

On Friday, Winfrey shared some of the lessons she'd learned since opening the school, including the importance of patience.

"What I learned in this process is that you do nothing alone and that you can have a lot of big ideas and a lot of big dreams and vision, but unless you have the infrastructure and the people, the team of people, to work with you, nothing ever gets done," Winfrey said. "But through every single difficulty I have said to myself the investment is in leadership. It's in the leadership of these girls."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Oprah Winfrey is set to graduate the first class of her Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls on Saturday, a 10-year journey that has been filled with tears, trials and triumph, she told ABC News' Diane Sawyer.

"I've learned so much. ... I would do it differently but the fact that we are here is a triumph," Winfrey said in a wide-ranging interview that touched on her own future in TV.

"This has been a journey of 8,000 miles," she said Friday. "Tomorrow, for me, is about celebrating the journey this has been."

Watch ABC’s "World News" Friday night at 6:30 ET to see Diane Sawyer's interview with Oprah Winfrey.

In January 2007, the talk show host opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls on 52 acres in the small town of Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg, South Africa. It took $40 million and six years to build.

At the time, Winfrey called the school -- a promise to herself and to former South African President Nelson Mandela -- "the fulfillment of my work on Earth."

Of the nearly 3,000 applicants, 152 of the country's brightest young girls were selected to attend the boarding school. The school currently has around 400 students.

Winfrey said Friday that despite their traumatic backgrounds, the students pushed forward and succeeded. All of them are headed to college, with 10 percent bound for a U.S. university.

Winfrey's school has presented her with its own challenges as well.

In November 2007, allegations of sexual and physical abuse by a school matron arose. The school matron was dismissed and then charged with molesting several girls. Winfrey flew to South Africa, apologizing to the students and parents and praising the girls who'd come forward to report the abuse. The school went on to flourish despite the early setbacks, becoming an even stronger learning institution as they grew over the years.

The matron was acquitted in October 2010.

On Friday, Winfrey shared some of the lessons she'd learned since opening the school, including the importance of patience.

"What I learned in this process is that you do nothing alone and that you can have a lot of big ideas and a lot of big dreams and vision, but unless you have the infrastructure and the people, the team of people, to work with you, nothing ever gets done," Winfrey said. "But through every single difficulty I have said to myself the investment is in leadership. It's in the leadership of these girls."
Friday
Feb182011

Dead Newborn Found at Oprah's South Africa School

Photo Courtesy - Oprah Winfrey/ABC News(JOHANNESBURG) -- Oprah Winfrey's school for girls in South Africa is being rocked by a fresh scandal as police investigate the body of a newborn found in one of the student's bags, police said Friday.

The baby's body was found last Wednesday in a bag the 17-year-old girl brought to a hospital where she was being treated for excessive bleeding, police Lt. Col. Lungelo Dlamini told ABC News in a statement.

It is believed that the girl, who has not been identified, gave birth at her school, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, which is located outside Johannesburg.

No charges have been filed against the girl and police will discuss the case with the Director for Public Prosecutions once the investigation has been finalized.

Winfrey's leadership academy has had problems in the past. Shortly after the all-girls high school opened in 2007, a school matron, Virginia Tiny Makopo, was charged with sexually molesting several girls. At the time Winfrey flew to South Africa to offer a personal apology to the students and their parents, citing her own experience with sexual abuse.

She also fired the school's headmistress, Lerato Nomvuyo Mzamane.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio