Oprah Winfrey Tells Grads ‘A Closet Full of Shoes’ Is Not the Measure of Success

The Queen of Daytime TV shared her rich collection of life lessons on Saturday at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga., including some thoughts on the value of footwear.

In a commencement speech delivered to the Class of 2017, media mogel, actress and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey reflected on the importance of engaging with the world in a meaningful way, and challenged the graduates to contribute their talents.

“Woah, does the world need you right now. Really, the struggle is real out there,” she said to the crowd of students, faculty and family. “The struggle to remain compassionate, the struggle to be committed and the struggle to be constructively engaged, that’s the challenge that you’re in for, Class of 2017. But I’m betting on you.”

Winfrey added that in her own career, her purpose was not necessarily to build a global brand but to remain true to her own ideals. “For me it’s not a business, it’s a question of what do you stand for? And I will say this: You’re nothing if you’re not the truth,” she said.

Oprah Winfrey

Needless to say, her efforts have been quite successful — and quite lucrative, as Winfrey herself pointed out. “I have made a living, I’ve made a life — I’ve made a fortune, really, it’s fantastic — from being true to myself.”

However, she went on to add: “The biggest reward is not the financial benefits. Though it’s really good — you can get a lot of great shoes; nothing wrong with great shoes. But those of you who have a lot of shoes know that having great shoes and a closet full of shoes, or cars or houses or square footage, doesn’t fill up your life.”

Instead she urged students to live a life of substance, illustrated through service.

David Letterman Guest Shoes
Oprah Winfrey wears strappy black heels for a David Letterman appearance in 2015.
CREDIT: Courtesy of CBS

In addition to serving as the commencement speaker, Winfrey received an honorary degree from Agnes Scott, a liberal arts women’s college founded in 1889.

She also attended to celebrate one of her “daughter-girls,” who attended the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy and graduated with ASC’s Class of 2017.

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