Watch Oprah's powerful speech to Class of 2020: 'What will your essential service be?'

The media mogul's rousing speech was part of Facebook and Instagram's virtual graduation event on Friday.
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/ Source: TODAY
By Gina Vivinetto

Class of 2020, Oprah Winfrey wants you to dream big.

Winfrey delivered an inspiring commencement speech Friday during Facebook and Instagram's virtual graduation celebration that challenged new grads to dream of ways to help others in the future.

"I know you may not feel like it, but you are indeed the chosen class," Winfrey told the Class of 2020, whose graduation ceremonies across the country have been canceled amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"You're also a united class, the pandemic class that has the entire world striving to graduate with you ... Never has a graduating class been called to step into the future with more purpose, vision, passion, and energy and hope," she added.

"I wish I could tell you I know the path forward; I don't," Winfrey continued. "There is so much uncertainty. In truth, there always has been. What I do know is that the same guts and imagination that got you to this moment — all those things are the very things that are going to sustain you through whatever is coming."

Everyone, young and old alike, must now learn to "be at peace with the discomfort of stepping into the unknown," said the OWN entrepreneur.

Winfrey invited graduates to think of the coronavirus as a challenge to create a better way of life.

"Can you use this disorder that COVID-19 has wrought?" she asked. "Can you treat it as an uninvited guest that's come into our midsts to reorder our way of being? Can you, the Class of 2020, show us not how to put the pieces back together again, but how to create a new and more evolved normal? A world more just, kind, beautiful, tender, luminous, creative, whole?"

The pandemic, she said, has illuminated "the vast systemic inequities that have defined life for too many for too long."

"This moment is your invitation to use your education to begin to heal our afflictions by applying the best of what you've learned in your head and felt in your heart," said Winfrey.

The daytime talk-show pioneer also thanked the essential workers — including healthcare workers, grocery store employees, truck drivers and teachers — who've kept the country running. "We are all here because they, at great and profound risk, are still providing their essential service," she said.

Winfrey ended her rousing speech by asking new grads, "What will your essential service be? What really matters to you?"

She added, "The fact that you're alive means you have been given a reprieve to think deeply about that question. How will you use what matters in service to yourself, your community and the world?"

Winfrey wasn't the only celebrity to show up for new grads at Facebook's virtual party. Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak co-hosted the special event, and Chrissy Metz, J.J. Watt, Simone Biles, and Miley Cyrus also dropped by to cheer on the Class of 2020.