Oprah academy graduatesThe Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, which opened in January 2007 in South Africa to provide educational and leadership opportunities for gifted girls from impoverished backgrounds, celebrated its first graduating class Saturday.

72 girls of graduating age filed onto the stage in Johannesburg, all wearing white dresses, to cheers and tears from Oprah herself, who’d invested $40 million to give them a safe haven and opportunities undreamed of before.

All 72 girls of the graduating class are headed to college, some bound for U.S. universities.

I’m one proud momma today,” said Winfrey, who wore a flowing gown in green, a school color.

Winfrey noted the gradates were born in 1994, the year apartheid ended, “into a nation that said: You are free. You are free to rise. You are free to soar.”

(WATCH the video below, or read the story, from The Guardian)

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