Winfrey challenged the crowd to think about the future and what each of them can do to create positive change in the world.
"The secret I've learned to getting ahead is being open to the lessons," she said. "It's being able to walk through life eager and open to self-improvement and that which is going to best help you evolve, because that's really why we're here - to evolve as human beings."
Winfrey was reflective, honest and self-deprecating. In short, she was the same Oprah who over a 22-year period has won three dozen Emmy Awards.
"I believe that there is a lesson in almost everything that you do and every experience," she told the new graduates. "Getting the lesson is how you move forward, is how you enrich your spirit. And trust me; I know that inner wisdom is more precious than wealth. The more you spend it, the more you gain."
"Money is pretty nice," she said, drawing knowing laughter from the crowd. "I like money. It's good for buying things. But having a lot of money does not automatically make one a successful person. What you want is money and meaning - you want your work to be meaningful, because meaning is what brings the real richness to your life."