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Commencement Speaker

2017 Commencement speaker Oprah Winfrey


Global media leader, philanthropist, producer and actress Oprah Winfrey delivered the address at Smith College’s 139th Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 21, 2017. 

Winfrey, along with four other distinguished guests, received an honorary degree at Commencement.

Oprah Winfrey is a global media leader, philanthropist, producer and actress. She has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world, making her one of the most respected and admired people today. For 25 years, Winfrey was host of the award-winning “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” As chairman and CEO, she’s guiding her successful cable network, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network; is the founder of O, The Oprah Magazine; and oversees Harpo Films. In 2013, Winfrey was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Winfrey is an Academy Award-nominated actress for her role in The Color Purple, earned critical acclaim in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and produced and acted in the Academy Award–winning film Selma. Winfrey recently appeared in the HBO Films The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and will portray Mrs. Which in Disney’s film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, releasing April 2018.

In 2015, Winfrey joined the Weight Watchers board of directors. On January 3, 2017, her first cookbook, Food, Health and Happiness: 115 On Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life, debuted as #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

In October 2017, The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa will celebrate its seventh graduating class and the school’s 10th anniversary. Winfrey established the school in 2007 to provide education for academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. Graduates of the school have continued on to higher education both in South Africa and at colleges and universities around the world. Morgan Mpungose, who is graduating from Smith this year, is a graduate of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.