I just got an email in my inbox about Oprah Winfrey being our commencement speaker for graduation this year. My first thought:
“Wow – the senior cabinet got the job done”.
Everyone knows that Oprah is huge. But how huge? She’s been called “one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th Century” and “one of the most influential people” of 2004 through 2007 by Time.
Her TV show is the longest running day-time talk show ever (22 seasons) and though I couldn’t find any numbers, is watched by a enormous number of people.
She also has a really popular magazine called O which Fortune called the “most successful startup ever” in the magazine industry. (I personally find it hilarious that every issue has Oprah on the cover)
Yeah, her show is often “feel-good” and spiritual and people make jokes about how women always cry when the watch Oprah. But that doesn’t matter. She clearly knows something about being famous and successful (something every Stanford student secretly or not-so-secretly wants to be).
Her success is even more impressive when you consider that, according to wikipedia, she was born to an single teenage mom and raised in the ghettos of Milwaukee.
Last year, the graduation speaker was Dana Gioia, a poet and the chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts. No sloucher, but not exactly what many seniors were looking for. And the while not everyone was disappointed by Dana Gioia, many were.
I’m glad the Class of 08 was able to step up.