When media mogul Oprah Winfrey speaks to Johnson C. Smith University’s 2016 graduation class on May 15, she’ll recognize a couple of graduates in the crowd of caps and gowns.
Seniors Noluthando “Thando” Dlomo and Nompumelelo “Mpumi” Nobiva are also graduates of Winfrey’s girls leadership academy that she established in South Africa in 2007 with a $40 million investment.
The academy is an all-girls boarding school for Grades 7-12 in Henley-on-Klip, near Johannesburg. It requires students to perform 3,000 hours of community service.
Dlomo and Nobiva flourished at the Charlotte university. Dlomo is the reigning Miss JCSU 2016 and represented the school at the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame. Nobiva has given prominent speeches, last semester speaking with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee.
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Andronica Klaas, a JCSU junior and also an academy classmate, was among 83 students from across the U.S. tapped to be a White House HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) All-Star.
During the 8 a.m. commencement, the university’s 149th, JCSU President Ron Carter will award Winfrey an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. She has honorary doctorate degrees from Duke and Harvard universities.
Winfrey, who turned her 25-season talk show into a media and philanthropic empire that includes the cable television OWN Network, has supported education worldwide.
In 1998, she formed Oprah’s Angel Network, raising money for women’s shelters and 60 schools in 13 countries. Through her Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program, she’s given out scholarships worth millions of dollars to students committed to giving back to their communities.