Winfrey to Harvard grads: Learn from your failures

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Her own calling, she said, was to use television to show people “that what unites us is ultimately far more redeeming and compelling than anything that separates (us).”

Winfrey’s speech dipped into politics, as she referred to entrenched partisanship that’s stymied legislation she said most Americans favor, including stronger background checks for gun purchases and a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.

Winfrey urged graduates to break through divisions and spoke of a lesson she learned from doing thousands of interviews. Every person — from George W. Bush to Barack Obama to Beyonce, “in all her Beyonce-ness” — asks the same thing when the interview is over: “Was that OK?”

People want to be validated and know that they’re being understood, Winfrey said. She challenged graduates to do that by personally connecting with people as a way to bridge divides.

“Even though this is the college where Facebook was born, my hope is that you will have the courage to go out and have conversations with people you disagree with,” she said.

Ultimately, graduates need to be true to themselves and open to sharing who they are, she said.

“What you learn, teach; what you get, give,” Winfrey said. “That, my friends, is what gives your life purpose and meaning.”

 

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