Oprah Winfrey goes to the Ivy League. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
The Mississippi native and media mogul spoke to approximately 1,800 students and their families at the graduation ceremony of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was also awarded with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
"Oh my goodness. I'm at HAAAARVARD"" she joked at the beginning of her speech, adding that she had not hidden prizes under the seats in the crowd, as she was once known for doing on her show.
Instead, the 59-year-old aimed to inspire the grads by telling them how she handled a recent disappointment in her own life: the lukewarm reception of her Oprah Winfrey Network in 2011.
"It really was, this time last year, the worst period in my professional life," said Winfrey, who Forbes named the highest earning celebrity of 2012, . "I was stressed, I was frustrated, and I was, quite frankly, I was actually embarrassed."
Oprah marches with her friend, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
The invitation to speak to Harvard students helped motivate Winfrey to make the low-rated network more successful, she said. Just this week, a pair of original shows from Oprah's friend Tyler Perry scored the highest ratings in OWN's history, and the Discovery CEO now predicts the channel will be profitable by the end of the year.
"So I am here today to tell you," Winfrey declared, "I have turned that network around."
"It doesn't matter how far you might rise, at some point you are bound to stumble," she noted. "Because if you're like us and you're constantly doing what we do, raising the bar, if you're constantly pushing yourself higher, higher, the law of averages, not to mention the myth of Icarus predicts that you will at some point fall. And when you do, remember this. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction."
Did anyone else just have an aha moment?
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