Oprah Celebrates Former Student From Her South Africa Academy Earning Her Doctorate


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On June 17, 2024, media mogul Oprah Winfrey shared a heartfelt message of congratulations for Bongeka Zuma on her graduation from Stanford University's Doctor of Medicine program. After becoming a member of the first graduating class of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa, Zuma went on to graduate summa cum laude at Spelman College, earned a master's degree from the University of Oxford and finally, received her doctorate.

In the post, Winfrey shared photos and videos from the ceremony, as well as a touching throwback photo of her hugging Zuma at the student's graduation from her leadership academy in 2007. She also explained why this moment meant so much to her.

“I’ve been to 22 graduations for all my daughter-girls who came from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa to colleges and universities across the United States,” Winfrey said. “This one was extra special… One of the great joys of my life was to see her walk across that stage! Knowing where she’s come from, a small community in KwaZulu-Natal, and how strongly she believed in becoming a doctor. She never gave up, and with a support team of good friends, fellow OWLAG sisters and professors, we all celebrated her achievement with great pride.”

When the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa originally opened, it received 3,500 applications from around the country. In the end, it accepted 152 girls, one of whom was Zuma. The program accepts girls in 8-12 grade. According to their website, the academy “strive(s) to raise future leaders who are able to navigate a variety of social and cultural context, and who will remain committed to the development of South Africa, the African continent, and the entire globe.”

Congratulations to Zuma, as well as the former and current students of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa, as they embark on their next journey and set out to become changemakers in their communities.

Oprah Winfrey: Website | Instagram | X
Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa: Website | Instagram
h/t: [Today]

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Sarah Currier

Sarah Currier is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Based in central Iowa, she is currently enrolled at Iowa State University and is working toward a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in English. She loves all things creative, and when she’s not writing, you can find her immersed in the worlds of television, film, and literature.
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