Tag Archives: duke class of 2009

Oprah Scoreboards Duke University Class of 2009 and Everyone Else

Wow. Gosh. Goodness. Oprah’s rich. She’s extremely wealthy. Even more, she’s extremely wealthy in a time when the unemployment rate is nearing double digits in many of America’s cities and towns. She’s extremely wealthy in a time when a lot of people are losing their jobs and their homes. Now, what does a wealthy person do in a time when the economy is lying there dead on the ground, when people are hoping that things will get better? I tell you what a wealthy person does – they go to graduation commencement at a major university and scoreboard everyone there (details). And ironically, she did it all in front of an actual scoreboard.

Oprah at Duke University Commencement 2009
Oprah at Duke University Commencement 2009

From Oprah’s commencement address:

“It’s great to have a nice home. It’s great to have nice homes! It’s great to have a nice home that just escaped the fire in Santa Barbara,” she said. “It’s great to have a private jet. Anyone that tells you that having your own private jet isn’t great is lying to you. You may achieve great things, but you haven’t completed the circle of success until you help someone else move to a higher ground and get to a better place.”

She kinda saved herself in the end, but her first few statements really showcased her vast riches. Glad you have a nice home? Glad you have nice homes? Is it really great to have a private jet? Oooh, tell us more about the most lushest of lifestyles. I think in another life, Oprah must have been One-Eyed Willy. She probably has a ship from the 1600’s locked away in some mountain that she bought on eBay. I bet her ship is called the Inferno II, and it’s probably full of gold bullion, jewels, and other priceless treasure.

One-Eyed Willy: "Arrgh, me needs a TV show in the future!"
One-Eyed Willy: "Arrgh, me needs a TV show in the future!"

I don’t really ever want to be rich or even have a ton of money. Life’s already too rough, and I’m already a bit of a jerk at times. But the last thing I’d want to do is go to a graduation commencement during an economic downturn, when unemployment is near 10% in America, look at thousands of college grads who don’t have jobs, and then tell them how awesome it is to have a great life, a great job, a few fabulous homes and a custom-built private jet. Yeah. I hope I don’t ever have the chance to do that. Because that would be rude.

To be fair, Oprah did give some very wise advice at the commencement:

She then launched into a laundry list of what is required for a truly successful life.
“If you can find a way to give back, you will be a huge success…
“If you can summon courage in the face of hardships, I know for sure that you will be a huge success…
“If you can see the possibilities of what you can become and not just what you are, you will be a huge success…
“If you can go through life with humility, you will be a huge success…
“If you can stand in your own shoes, you will be a huge success…
“If you can be generous enough to say kind, affirming words to those that long to hear them, you will be a huge success.”

I guess the lesson is: give back. (And maybe then you can get a private jet.)