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/ Source: TODAY
By Eun Kyung Kim

Oprah Winfrey has spoken openly about her decision not to have children, but the media mogul has recently embraced motherhood of a different sort.

To the tens of dozens of students and graduates of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, the philanthropist and talk show legend is simply Mom O.

“They're the daughters I did not have,” Winfrey told People magazine. “I never thought that that mothering instinct was something for me. I like babies, but I like them like, ‘Hi, baby, OK, now go over there.’ 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.”

The students at Oprah Winfrey's girls academy in South Africa have a special nickname for the media mogul.Getty Images

The boarding school opened in 2007 with facilities that rival those found in top U.S. prep schools, and 90 percent of its graduates have gone on to college, including Harvard and Oxford.

“They are my greatest, deepest joy,” Winfrey said about her students.

Winfrey, who turns 65 on Jan. 29, has revealed in the past that she has no regrets about not having children of her own.

“I didn't want babies,” she told Good Housekeeping U.K. in one interview. “I wouldn't have been a good mom for babies. I don't have the patience. I have the patience for puppies, but that's a quick stage!”

But Winfrey admitted to People that she originally was hesitant when the girls at the academy started using their nickname for her.

“When the girls started calling me Mom O, I did not want their mothers or their legal guardians to think that I was stepping in and trying to take over the role their mom mom holds in their lives,” she said. “I'm very much aware of who I am and what my role is for them.”