Oprah Winfrey is returning to her alma mater, Tennessee State University, as the keynote speaker for the 2023 spring commencement ceremony.
Winfrey will serve as the speaker for the undergraduate ceremony, while United States Congressman Bennie G. Thompson will address the graduate students.
“To have Ms. Winfrey as our speaker will be a life-changing moment for graduates and the University. She is someone who has walked the TSU campus as a student, sat in some of the same classrooms, and knows first-hand the value of a TSU education,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Ms. Winfrey and Congressman Thompson are trailblazers, history makers, and HBCU graduates, adding to the excitement and anticipation for both commencement ceremonies.”
Before she became the mogul that she is today, Winfrey was a student at Tennessee State University.
She attended TSU on a full scholarship, majoring in communications, and graduated from the HBCU in 1986.
While at TSU, Winfrey worked at what is now known as WTVF-TV where she was the youngest news anchor and the first black female news anchor.
She became a household name in 1986 with the premiere of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which made her the first Black woman to host a nationally syndicated talk show. The iconic show ran for 25 years and remains the highest-rated talk show in American television history. It also racked up 47 Daytime Emmy Awards. The show helped Winfrey become the first Black female billionaire and one of the most influential people in the world.
In addition to her media empire, Winfrey is a dedicated philanthropist and has contributed more than $200 million toward providing education for academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. She is also a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The media mogul’s Morehouse Scholars Program has assisted over 600 men in graduating from college, and in 2020, she donated over $20 million in vital COVID-19 relief support to cities around the country, including Nashville.
Winfrey will come home to TSU to speak at the undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6 at 8 a.m. CDT, in Hale Stadium.
The undergraduate ceremony will take place on Friday, May 5 at 5 p.m. CDT, in the Gentry Center Complex.