Oprah Celebrates 'Extra Special' Graduation of Former Student Who Attended Her South Africa School

Bongeka Zuma was among hundreds of students who attended Stanford University’s commencement ceremony on Sunday

<p>Oprah/Instagram</p> Oprah at the Standford Medicine graduation


Oprah at the Standford Medicine graduation

Oprah Winfrey is celebrating an “extra special” graduation!

Among the hundreds of students honored Stanford University’s commencement ceremony at Stanford Stadium on Sunday, June 16 was Bongeka Zuma, who previously attended the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa.

On Sunday, Zuma graduated from Stanford as a Doctor of Medicine. The next day, Winfrey paid tribute to her success.

“One of the great joys of my life was to see her walk across that stage! Knowing where she’s come from, a small community in KwaZulu-Natal, and how strongly she believed in becoming a doctor,” Winfrey wrote in the caption of an Instagram post featuring a slideshow of videos and photos from the special day.

Related: How 'Mom O' Changed Our Lives: Oprah Winfrey's Students Share Their Powerful Stories

Zuma was in the first graduating class of Winfrey’s boarding school, which opened in 2007, according to Today. Just 152 of more than 3,000 applicants were accepted at the time.

Zuma first graduated summa cum laude from Spelman College in Georgia, and later earned a master’s degree at Oxford University in England, per Winfrey’s post.

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Winfrey said she has attended 22 different graduations “for all my daughter-girls who came from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy,” but noted this one in particular “was extra special.”

“She never gave up,” the philanthropist wrote, “and with a support team of good friends, fellow OWLAG sisters and professors, we all celebrated her achievement with great pride. Congratulations, Dr. Zuma. Well done! Well done!”

<p>Oprah/Instagram</p> Oprah at Stanford Medicine graduation


Oprah at Stanford Medicine graduation

Speaking with PEOPLE in 2019, Winfrey said the motivation behind her boarding school was “to build a school for girls who are like me.” She also said the girls who attended the school “are my greatest, deepest joy.”

Related: Oprah Winfrey Shares Moving Pride Month Tribute to Brother Who Died of AIDS: 'The World Was Extremely Cruel'

“They’re the daughters I did not have,” the former talk show host said at the time. “I never thought that that mothering instinct was something for me. I like babies, but I like them like, ‘Hi baby, okay, now go over there.’ ”

She added, “I like children when they can actually speak to me and tell what is the problem. This is how having children was supposed to manifest for me.”

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