Oprah Winfrey

Credit: Courtesy photo

“Let service be your mantra,” Oprah Winfrey urged UC Santa Barbara's newest graduates.

The UC Santa Barbara Classes of 2020 and 2021 were honored in a virtual commencement ceremony June 12 that included a livestreamed keynote graduation address by media executive, talk show host, author and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.

“You adjusted, you innovated, you stepped up to every challenge the pandemic could throw your way,” she told the graduates. “And today you get to claim victory as we celebrate the classes of 2020 and 2021.

“You’ll be telling your story to your grandchildren, the story of surviving a global health crisis, of thriving and graduating during a pandemic,” she continued. “You already had, in your young lives, created a legacy of resielence, of not giving up when the challenges kept coming, of making virtual reality your reality — all while learning and growing and now moving into the next chapter of your life.”

Oprah Winfrey, keynote speaker at UC Santa Barbara's 2021 Commencement. Her remarks begin just after the 30:45 mark

Let service be your mantra

"This past year has told you what's meaningful and what's not," Winfrey said. "Choose what's meaningful and matters most. Connect to those you love and who love you. If we didn't get that lesson this past year, then the isolation was wasted on us." 

Building on that theme, she urged the new grads to think deeply about how to serve others in whatever they choose to do with their lives.

"Shift your thinking to the paradigm of 'how can I be used in service," Winfrey said. "Ask that question in truth, and I guarantee that, one small shimmering act of goodness and gratitude at a time, life will open up to you and it will reward you in ways that will leave you in awe."