*Oprah Winfrey dropped jewels of wisdom to the Class of 2017 at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, where an alum from her South African Leadership Academy for Girls was among the graduates.
“If I can leave you with any message today: the biggest reward is not financial benefits,” she told the class.
The mogul focused on the importance of “living a life of substance” and how vital it is to empathize with others – particularly in this volatile political climate.
She also made specific reference to an event she hosted in the immediate wake of the 2016 election, where she invited women who had supported Clinton and those who had backed Trump to have an open discussion together.
“Nobody wanted to come to breakfast,” Oprah said. “After two and a half hours I had those women not only eating croissants, but sitting around the table listening to each other’s struggles, hearing both sides and by the end they were holding hands and exchanging emails and phone numbers.
“It’s possible. It can happen. I want you to work in your own way to change the world in respectful conversations with others.
“I want you to enter every situation aware of its context, open to hear the truth of others and most important, open to letting the process of changing the world change you. That is the spirit of constructive engagement.”
Oprah spoke of the more than 37,000 interviews she has conducted on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and stressed the importance of trying to understand what other people are going through.
“I had to learn to feel with others, which is what it means to be compassionate. I feel with you. It means not only am I able to walk in your shoes, my heart beats with yours. I see myself in you.”
Oprah’s parting advice was for the grads to focus on substance over finances.
“I’ve made a living, I’ve made a life – I’ve made a fortune, really – all good – from being true to myself. If I can leave you with any message today: the biggest reward is not financial benefits – though it’s really good, you can get a lot of great shoes. Those of you who have a lot of shoes know having a closet full of shoes doesn’t fill up your life. Living a life of substance can. Substance through your service.”
Watch Oprah’s entire commencement speech at Agnes Scott College below: