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First class graduates from Oprah Winfrey's South African school

Meagan Morris is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist living in New York City. In addition to SheKnows, Morris contributes to many publications including The New York Times, Yahoo! News, PopEater, NBC New York and Spinner. Follow he...

Oprah's students are graduating!

Oprah Winfrey has plenty to be thankful for this Christmas: The first class of girls from her South African school are graduating and off to college!

Oprah Winfrey's first class is graduatingOprah Winfrey is celebrating a huge milestone this week -- her school for African girls is graduating its first class of students!

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership School for Girls opened its doors in January 2007 in Henley on Klip, located south of Johannesburg, South Africa. The talk show queen donated $40 million to open the school and provided computers, labs, a library and a wellness center.

The students paid no tuition.

Now, most of the students are headed to colleges and universities in the United States and Europe. One of Oprah's students, Mpumi Nobiva, was raised by her grandmother after her mother died of AIDS. The 18-year-old is now headed to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

One of the biggest lessons Oprah's school taught her was that teaching a child will educate an entire nation. "The first class, my class, will prove that," Nobiva told the Washington Post. "You can imagine the impact of girls with that insight going out into the universe."

The precocious student added that controversies -- including abuse allegations and a newborn baby found dead at the school earlier this year -- only taught them courage.

"Yes, we've had bad coverage," Nobiva said. "But it has certainly made us stronger."

Oprah will be on hand for the graduation ceremonies in January, according to the Post. After all, the problems these girls face aren't so different from problems she faced as a young girl growing up in the United States.

"When I'm there I'm talking from the time I get up till I go to bed, about EVERYTHING teenage girls are going through. It's the same all over the world," she said after returning from South Africa in July.

Image courtesy Linda Matlow/PIXINTL/WENN.com

Read on for more Oprah

Oprah's next chapter: Primetime TV
Oprah Winfrey finally gets her (honorary) Oscar
Oprah's teaching high school students how to be billionaires

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