Lindiwe Tsope is the first Oprah Winfrey school graduate to get a PhD

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Talk show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey poses with the graduates from the inaugural class at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, Henley-on-Klip, South Africa, January 14, 2012.

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Lindiwe Tsope has become the first graduate of Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa to be awarded a PhD. 

Tsope was part of the first class to be inducted at Oprah Winfrey’s school in 2007 when it opened in the town of Meyerton, near Johannesburg in South Africa. 

Tsope graduated in 2012 and then enrolled at South Africa’s Rhodes University in 2013, where she completed her undergraduate and masters degrees, along with her PhD in sociology. 

Tsope thanked OWLAG and Winfrey, calling the talk show host and philanthropist the “driver” of her dreams, in an interview released by Rhodes University on Monday. 

“I cried for an hour when I received that last email that confirmed I had completed my qualification,” Tsope said, saying that it was the “greatest thing” she had done for herself. 

During her course she lectured a class for undergraduates and initially worried about how she was “going to be received, especially as a young black female.” 

However, Tsope said that she felt her life had come “full circle,” lecturing the class in which she was once a student. 

OWLAG is the only school Winfrey has set up but prior to launching the academy, she was already donating to a scholarship program at Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia. She established the Oprah Winfrey Scholar Program at the men’s liberal arts college in 1989, which has funded the education of over 700 students, sending over 300 to South Africa to “engage in service and leadership experiences.”

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