Oprah Winfrey

by Jodi from Spokane

Oprah Winfrey calls the opening of her school

Oprah Winfrey has influenced television, film, radio, books and magazines, and the future. She is also worth over $2.5 billion. Despite an impoverished upbringing, she has become one of the most successful and generous women. Oprah currently resides in Santa Barbara, where she lives with her beloved golden retrievers.

On January 29, 1954, Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Since her father was in the Armed Forces, her mother settled in the north where Oprah’s grandmother lived. There she spent the next six years living in rural poverty. Reading the Bible and attending church was an important part of Oprah’s life. However, her grandmother and other family members were abusive and not supportive.

At the age of 19, Oprah was not only the youngest person to anchor the news at Nashville’s WTVF-TV, but also the first African-American anchor woman. In 1986, The Oprah Winfrey Show entered national television and for 21 consecutive seasons has been ranked the number one talk show. Oprah created O, The Oprah Magazine, in 2000, which is a monthly lifestyle magazine for women. Recently she has committed to three years with XM Satellite Radio and currently has her own channel, Oprah & Friends. A large part of Oprah’s income goes to education. The Oprah Winfrey Foundation gives hundreds of grants around the world to organizations which support education. The foundation also provided gifts of clothing, food, toys, books, and shoes to schools in South Africa during Christmas of 2002. Another way Oprah invests her money is through “The Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program”, which awards scholarships to students who apply their education to better their communities. Her most recent project was building an all girls school in South Africa.

In January 2007, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa was opened. After investing $40 million towards the creation, the 28-building campus is home to 152 girls and will eventually accommodate 450 girls. To qualify, girls needed to show academic and leadership potential and also come from a household whose monthly income is no more than $787. Oprah’s vision is for the Leadership Academy to produce future women leaders of South Africa. She states, “I love these girls with every part of my being. I didn’t know you could feel this way about other people’s children.”

I admire Oprah Winfrey because she is genuine and generous. It is obvious she cares about the well being and education of others, especially those in poverty. The difference between Oprah and many other celebrities is Oprah takes action. She does not simply donate money but instead becomes heavily involved. Her passion for education is refreshing, her generosity is inspiring and her love for her students in South Africa is overwhelming. Oprah has positively influenced society by expressing the importance and value of a quality education.

Farell, Denis. (2007). Oprah Winfrey opens school for girls in South Africa. USA Today. Retrieved September 22, 2007 from

Givhan, Robin. (2007). In Oprah’s South African School, Girls Will Get a Beautiful Education. Washington Post. Retrieved September 22, 2007 from

Oprah Winfrey. (2007). Wikipedia. Retrieved September 22, 2007 from

Oprah Winfrey’s Biography. (2007). Retrieved September 22, 2007 from

Page created on 10/8/2007 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 10/8/2007 12:00:00 AM

Related Links

Oprah - Details on her television program, book club, magazine, radio show, and other information.
Wikipedia Biography on Oprah - Information on childhood, career, wealth, and influence.
Oprah - Details on the Leadership Academy in South Africa
Washington Post - Information on the Leadership Academy.