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Oprah Winfrey to be Harvard University commencement speaker this spring

Posted by Your Town  March 4, 2013 08:49 AM

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Talk show host, entrepreneur and entertainer Oprah Winfrey will be Harvard University's principal speaker at the afternoon exercises of Harvard’s 362nd Commencement, the university announced Monday morning.

“Oprah’s journey from her grandmother’s Mississippi farm to becoming one of the world’s most admired women is one of the great American success stories,” Harvard President Drew Faust said in a statement posted on the Harvard Gazette website. “She has used her extraordinary influence and reach as a force for good in the world, with a constant focus on the importance of educational opportunity and the virtues of serving others.”

Winfrey is scheduled to speak May 30 during the university's "Afternoon Exercises,'' according to the Gazette. The exercises will take place in the Tercentenary Theatre of Harvard Yard, between Memorial Church and Widener Library, according to the Gazette.

Winfrey’s nationally syndicated talk show ran for more than 20 years, reaching an audience of over 40 million people a week in the United States as well as viewers from 150 countries, according to the Gazette. The Gazette also said that Oprah's book club has encouraged reading worldwide and featured many unknown authors.

Her advocacy work helped pass the "Oprah Bill" in 1993, federal legislation that established a national database of convicted child abusers. Oprah’s Angel Network, a public charity, has raised money to found dozens of schools, to establish youth centers, to support women’s shelters, and to provide relief after Hurricane Katrina.

“Oprah Winfrey is an inspiration to people around the world who care about opening minds and serving the common good,” said Carl F. Muller, president of the Harvard Alumni Association. “I know our alumni will value the opportunity to hear from her in May.”

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