Oprah Winfrey1 's commencement address Wellesley College

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My hat's off to you! My hat's off to you!
[ Crowd cheers : Go Girl ! ]
You all have "gone" girls! I want to
say thank you , Dr. Walsh and to the
esteemed2 faculty, to those of you par-
ents — what you have been through,
God Bless you — and to the greatest
class that has ever graduated from
Wellesley3. I must say — you are my heart, Dr. Walsh is right. I saw you
walking in and I started to weep, and I don't consider myself a weeper, but I
guess I must be if I started to weep, because I know what it takes to get
through here and I am so proud of all of you for getting through.
You all know this, that life is a journey and I want to share with you just for a few moments about five things (aren't you glad they aren't ten) five things that have made this journey for me exciting. Five lessons that I've learned that if I had gone to Wellesley I could have not made as many mistakes, but five lessons that I've learned that have helped me to make my life better.
First of all, life is a journey. I've learned to become more fully who you are and that is what I love about this institution, it allows women to come to the fullest extent of their possibilities who they really are and that's what life does — teach you to be who you are.

It took me a while to get that lesson, that it really is just about everyday experiences, teaching you, moment in, moment out, who you really are. That every experience is here to teach you more fully how to be who you really are. Because, for a long time I wanted to be somebody else. I mean growing up I didn't have a lot of role models. I was born in 1954. On TV there was only Buckwheat4 , and I was ten years old before I saw Diana Ross on "The Ed Sullivan Show" with the Supremes and said I want to be like that.
It took me a long time to realize I was never going to have Diana Ross' thighs, no matter how many diets I went on , and I was not going to have her hair neither unless I bought some. I came to the realization after being in television and having the news director trying to make me into something that I wasn't and going to New York and allowing myself to be treated less than I should have been—going to a beauty salon5, you all know there is a difference between Black hair and White hair. That is the one thing you learn the first week at Wellesley; how did you get your hair to do that?

What I learned going to a beauty salon and asking them, after the news director told me that my hair was too thick and my eyes were too far apart and I needed a makeover, sitting in a French beauty salon, allowing them to put a French perm6 on my Black hair and having the perm burn through my cerebral cortex7 and not being the woman that I am now, so not having the courage to say, "this is burning me," and coming out a week later bald and having to go on the air". You learn a lot about yourself when you are Black, and a woman and bald and trying to be an anchor-woman9. You learn you are not Diana Ross and that you are not Barbara Walters who I was trying to be at the time.
Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe10. When I was little girl, Mississippi" , growing up on the farm, only Buckwheat as a role model, watching my grandmother boil clothes in a big, iron pot through the screen door, because we didn't have a washing machine and made everything we had. I watched her and realized somehow inside myself, in the spirit of myself, that although this was segregated Mississippi and I was "colored" and female, that my life could be bigger, greater than what 1 saw. I remember being four or five years old, I certainly couldn't articulate12 it, but it was a feeling and a feeling that I allowed myself to follow. I allowed myself to follow it because if you were to ask me what is the secret to my success, it is because I understand that there is a power greater than myself, that rules my life and in life if you can be still long enough in all of your endeavors, the good times, the hard times, to connect yourself to the source, I call it God, you can call it whatever you want to, the force, nature, Allah13, the power.
If you can connect yourself to the source and allow the energy that is your personality, your life force to be connected to the greater force, anything is possible for you. I am proof of that. I think that my life, the fact that I was born where I was born, and the time that I was and have been able to do what I have done speaks to the possibility. Not that I am special, but that it could be done. Hold the highest, grandest vision for yourself.
Every life speaks to the power of what can be done. And some of them after-wards were crying to me saying that "we didn't know, we didn't know, and this is unfair," and I said, that is the lesson: you needed to dream a bigger dream for yourself. That is the lesson. Hold the highest vision possible for your life and it can come true14.

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