Oprah Winfrey is celebrating the first graduating class of South Africa's Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. Even Oprah detractors must admit that this is an incredible feat. The mogul shares the accomplishments of her young students in the new OWN special, "The First Graduating Class." Winfrey started the academy to support the education and empowerment of poor girls in the region in 2006.
Oprah's decision to start the school and the process were examined in a previous special called "Building the Dream." The opening of the school itself was the culmination of a five-year plan. The 28-building school cost $40 million dollars. The initial group admitted consisted of 152 girls with the plan to expand to 450 students. The prestigious educational institution created by the talk show maven rebounded quickly after an early sexual abuse scandal involving a school maven.
"Mom Oprah," as her girls fondly call her, starts with a look back at how the academy came to be. She cites the African proverb, "She who learns, teaches."
The OWN Facebook page is filled with viewers who missed the special and want to know where to watch it. Social media and live-streaming are an integral part of the OWN brand. However, this show is unavailable online currently. So if you missed "The First Graduating Class," where do you catch it? Luckily, there are several clips currently available on the Oprah website.
Get your box of tissues ready as it's unlikely you'll be able to watch any of these videos without crying in compassion and joy at the triumphs of these brave young ladies.
Oprah's parting words for the first graduating class
The students are full of fun and energy as they watch clips of who they used to be. When they entered the school, they were shy, impoverished young women. Oprah points out that almost every week, a girl loses a close family member. The general atmosphere of grief must be heavy. Nonetheless, these girls are positive and seem destined to succeed. Brava to them all!
Dwana Smallwood's new dream job
New York Magazine chose dancer Dwana Smallwood as one of the "Most Beautiful New Yorkers." The former Alvin Ailey prima ballerina is indeed physically gorgeous, but it turns out that on the inside she's even more beautiful. When Oprah invited the diva to share her moves and passion in the short term with the OWLAG students, Smallwood found her own passion for the long term. She discovered her calling and her new dream job as the school's Director of Student Affairs.
Graduation day at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls
This was one of the most inspiring webisodes of all. After all, the Class of 2011 was five years in the making. The sea of gorgeous graduating girls in their white dresses is breathtaking. Even the graduation speaker, Graca Machel, was overcome by emotion. Oprah asks herself, "What were you thinking that you could build a school 8,000 miles away?" She was thinking of this moment.
More from this contributor:
- Arts & Entertainment
- Oprah Winfrey