Oprah Celebrates Stanford University Graduate, OWLA Alum, Dr. Bongeka Zuma

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey recently attended a momentous occasion at Stanford University, celebrating the graduation of Bongeka Zuma, an alumna from Winfrey’s Leadership Academy in South Africa.

Winfrey shared her elation on Instagram with a slideshow of photos and videos with Zuma, who graduated as a Doctor of Medicine. “One of the great joys of my life was to see her walk across that stage!” the “Selma” actress wrote. “Knowing where she’s come from…and how strongly she believed in becoming a doctor…She never gave up.”

Zuma’s journey began in KwaZulu-Natal, leading her to be part of the inaugural class at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, established in 2007 in Henley-on-Klip. According to Winfrey’s official website, the tuition-free boarding school on a 52-acre campus boasts state-of-the-art facilities, including a high-tech computer lab, wellness center, and library housing thousands of books. Recognizing the challenging backgrounds of many students, Winfrey implemented a robust support network of educators, psychologists, and social workers.

Prior to her Stanford accomplishment, Zuma graduated summa cum laude from Spelman College and earned a master’s degree from Oxford University. Winfrey, who has attended 22 graduations for her “daughter-girls” from the Leadership Academy, noted, “This one was extra special.”

In a 2012 episode of “Oprah’s Great Expectations,” Zuma reflected on the pressure to excel. “I guess when you bring girls…from all over South Africa…you bring girls who have been number one at their schools…competing to want to be great.” In the video posted on OWN‘s YouTube channel, Winfrey addressed her first class of future graduates ahead of their final exams. She challenged the students to fulfill the highest expressions of themselves as human beings, “nothing small.”

Sunday’s graduation ceremony was a joyous affair for Dr. Zuma. The Stanford grad was surrounded by friends, fellow OWLAG sisters, and professors. Winfrey concluded her Instagram tribute with heartfelt congratulations to the new graduate.

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