Oprah Winfrey

Alexandria Pagana

The Basics

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey

There are many people in this world that had to overcome countless obstacles to achieve what they have today. Enduring hard situations makes a person bigger and stronger. Even when in the event if an awful mistake, lessons can be learned. Oprah Winfrey has been through a lot of hard times in her life, but still has accomplished so much. Without her childhood, she would not be the hardworking person she is today. She is a billionaire, but her fortune was not handed to her. Looking back on her past, I can say I fully admire what she has be through because she never gave up on herself and rose over any obstacle that got in her way.

Early Childhood

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah as a Child

To start off, Oprah Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. She was born into a separated family; her parents were never married or together throughout her lifetime. Her mother, Vernita Lee, lived in poverty from the day Oprah was born. Oprah started off in kindergarten at the age of five, but quickly moved to first grade because of her high intelligence. Her smarts are what made her achieve incredible amounts in her life. When she was seven years old, she received her first bed and her own room. That was a joyous day for her because she had slept on a couch or the floor for the first seven years of her life. By the age of nine, Oprah went to live with her dad, Vernon Winfrey, in Milwaukee. Living there was not any better than living with her mom. Oprah was sexually abused from ages nine to thirteen. She was very quiet about the situation; she was afraid of the outcome. Her cousin who had abused her threatened that if she told anyone, he would kill her. Oprah suffered many physical and emotional effects from the ordeal. Nevertheless, she refused to give up on herself and she kept fighting. Oprah ran away numerous times because she wanted to escape all of her problems, but she was always found quickly by local police or by her father. Unfortunately, she received horrifying news when she was fourteen years old. Oprah found out she was pregnant but she lost the baby in the minutes it was born. There was no identification of who the father was; he was never spoken of. “You can have it all, just not all at once,” she said. Oprah’s childhood was very devastating but she still kept her head up throughout the process.

Education and Success

Oprah Winfrey
The Oprah Winfrey Show

Amazingly, Oprah’s life started to change after she graduated high school. She received a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee. This was huge for her, because her parents could not afford her education. At college, she majored in Speech Communications and Performing Arts. That is why she is very fluent with her speech and knows what to say at certain times. Oprah graduated from college after four years of attending the university. Amazingly, her first job offer was a new anchor on the 6 o clock news. Two years later, she received another job as a co-host for Baltimore’s WJZ-TV’s “People are Talking”. It kept getting better for Oprah when she got a third job offer on the show A.M Chicago. One month after she started appearing as the new talk show host, it became the number one talk show in the Chicago market. Since it was so successful, one year later the show was renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Also, she got a role in the movie “The Color Purple” as Sofia, an African American girl (Buffalo 43-5). Oprah became very successful.

Achievements and Giving Back

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey's Helping Hands

Though she became extremely wealthy, Oprah gives a lot of her fortune to the needy and is not selfish. She is rated the most philanthropic African American of all time. Oprah has created many foundations and organizations to help charities and also help rebuild people’s lives. In 1998, she created the Oprah Angel Network; the main goal was to make a difference in the lives of others. This network has raised more than fifty-million dollars. The network’s main donation was to the Hurricane Katrina incident in order to help families with the terrible conditions and get out of that tragedy. Also, she created the organizations “The Oprah Winfrey Foundation”, and “The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation”. Both of the organizations do different things, but overall they have the same concept. Since she was very wealthy, she gave back to the unfortunate. For example, Oprah gave an audience of one hundred a gift of one thousand dollars each to give to a charity of their choice. Not doing it purposely, she also employed many people. On the Oprah Winfrey Show, she has eighty-six people working with her, and on her other productions she employs over three hundred people. In every way you can think of, Oprah is giving back and is trying to make the lives of people better. Oprah did not live a good childhood but giving back to the unfortunate puts a smile on her face and helps ease unpleasant memories.

As of today, Oprah has achieved a lot. At the age of fifty-seven, she has her own talk show, network, and magazine. The Oprah Winfrey show is very popular and has gained many viewers and fame. The bad news is that her talk show is ending on May 25, 2011. It has been up and running for about twenty-five years but recently created a network called The Oprah Winfrey Network. Her network is not very popular, but it will take time for the ratings to start going up. On the bright side, she first started to release her magazine in May 2000 and it quickly became popular. Having her own magazine gave her another way to communicate with many types of people. “You are not built to shrink down to less but blossom into more,” she said. Oprah has a lot of accomplishments to be proud of and is doing great even as an older woman.

The Legacy Herself

Oprah Winfrey

Finally, Oprah has gotten over many obstacles within her lifetime. Being put in the type of situations she went through is unbelievable. Most people would give up on themselves, but luckily she did not. Pregnant at the age of fourteen, molested, and poverty stricken is not the best of beginnings, but Oprah overcame the adversity. She is a role model for many and is just one of the examples of why people should not give up on yourself. Any dream can come true as long as there is a will. Oprah has changed views. She will never be forgotten and many will look up to her for a long time.

Works Cited:

Buffalo, Audreen. Oprah Winfrey. New York: Fabia Wargin Design and Creative Media Applications, Inc., 1993.

Nagle, Jeanne. Oprah Winfrey Profile of a Media Mogul. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group Inc, 2008.

“Oprah Winfrey Biography.” Biography.com. 30 April 2011. A&E Television Networks, LLC. 22 Oct 2014 website

“Oprah Winfrey News.” NYtimes.com. January 2014. The New York Times Company. 22 Oct 2014 website

“The Time 100 The World’s Most Influential People.” Time.com 11 May 2014. Time Inc.22 Oct 2014