Now, it’s not everyday a 13-year-old runs home to watch Oprah Winfrey. But growing up in Utah, I longed to see people who looked like me.

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I’ve never met Oprah, but she has had such an impact on my life.

At a time when I was being told by my ignorant peers that all I’d amount to was a basketball player or rapper because of my skin color, I’d run home to watch her on TV. Everybody loved her. She was fun, energetic and caring, and her life story made her even more amazing. She was known as the “Queen Of Talk Shows.”

The only other shows I knew of were Maury and Jerry Springer, who depicted African Americans in a negative light, portraying them just like the stereotypes my peers had told me I needed to behave like in order to be “black.”

But I wanted to be like Oprah.

I wanted to be intelligent. I wanted to be a leader and role model. I wanted to be a TV host.

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Oprah Winfrey speaks during the "Let Freedom Ring" ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall on August 28, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

 

Aside from inspiring millions of people all over the world, Oprah has done so much good for others, whether it’s giving away cars to everyone in the audience at her shows or building a school for girls in Africa. And there are always more humanitarian acts we don’t hear much about.

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President Barack Obama awards the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Oprah Winfrey during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

 

Oprah understands the saying, “To whom much is given, much is required.” She takes her responsibility to be a positive influence on humanity seriously, and she uses her gifts to exemplify it.

The most admirable trait about Oprah, though, is no matter how famous she has gotten, how much money she has made or how many awards she has won, Oprah has always stayed humble and grounded. She’s had little to no controversy in her career, which can be hard when you’re always in the spotlight and every action you take is critiqued and scrutinized.

Oprah is spiritual and credits everything to God. She is always sharing her faith and connection to God and her beliefs. I hope to also one day find the kind of inner peace she has, which probably only comes with age and great wisdom.

As I near the end of my college journey, which has had its ups and downs, and I start to question why my journey wasn’t smooth like many people’s, Oprah’s story of triumph after failure and trial keeps me going.

No one can take away what God has planned for you, no matter how tough the road or how rigorous the journey. The rough path it took to get to your destination is all just part of your story. Never give up. Let your dreams give you a purpose and a reason to wake up every day and keep going.

One day you’ll wake up, and you’ll actually be living your dream.

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