Winfrey chose 15 students who have proven their leadership abilities in their communities and academic abilities in the classroom for the four-year scholarship program. The chosen recipients will be attending some of the best colleges in the nation, including Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Howard and Loyola Marymount University.
The leadership scholars have chosen majors spanning from music to medicine and mechanical engineering, People reports. The surprise video call from the 67-year-old media mogul happened over the summer and was released on Sept. 1.
Winfrey is well-known for her generosity, and her foundation has given out more than $400 million to fund the education of young people since 1993 and educated 72,000 people.
Winfrey told the recipients that she was able to achieve her dreams with education, and she was pleased to be able to help them achieve success as well. The media icon also told the students that she was looking forward to watching them flourish and congratulated them on their accomplishments thus far.
“These young leaders bring me hope for our future, and I look forward to watching each of them flourish. There are young people like you in the world who are claiming your stake for the future and have done the work to prepare for a better life not just for yourself but for everybody else,” said Winfrey.
“Everything that you’ve overcome in your life, every single thing, every obstacle, every challenge that we’ve put in for you, you stood up to that challenge. You kept going. You were willing to be the standout, even though other people didn’t understand what you were standing for.
“Everything that you’ve done up until this moment has made you worthy of this scholarship and everything else that you have earned and will continue to earn,” she continued.
“You are more than interested but determined to use the fullness of yourself, the expression of yourself as a human being for the highest good — not just for yourself but to also do that for other people. You’re the one that we have been waiting for, and I am so proud of you. And congratulations!”
The students were pleasantly surprised and shocked by the news. One student thanked Winfrey and said, “This is amazing!”
Another grateful student said, “Thank you so much for this opportunity!”
“Wow! This is great!” said another happy recipient.
The smiles were bountiful and the tears flowed as the recipients and some parents listened to Winfrey congratulate the students. All students selected were from diverse backgrounds and made it through a long application process to prove their endurance.
Congratulations to the young leaders of tomorrow!