Oprah Winfrey Biography

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Women in Business- Non-Linear Career Paths
Module 5 A1 – Female CEO Biography Research Paper
07/29/2012
Professor Bridget Ball Shaw
OPRAH WINFREY
Oprah Gail Winfrey, a famous black writer, talk show host, actress, philanthropist, and television producer, was born on January 29, 1954, in Kosciusko, Mississippi. When Oprah was born her given name was Orpah from the book of Ruth in the bible and her name was changed to Oprah as it was easier for people to pronounce. Oprah was born to unwed, teenage parents. Her mother Vernita Lee was eighteen and a housemaid, her father Vernon Winfrey was twenty and in the armed forces.

Oprah lived her first 6 years on a farm in Mississippi with her grandmother Hattie Mae Lee, while her mother moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin looking for work, she planned to bring Oprah to live with her there once she had a job and could provide for the family. Oprah learned to read at age 3 with the encouragement of her grandmother, who could see that Oprah had a love for reading books. Oprah started kindergarten at age 5, and was advanced to first grade very fast because she already knew how to read and write.

When Oprah was 6 her grandmother became very ill, so she was send to live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her mother, and half-sister Patricia, in a boarding house. Vernita worked as a maid cleaning houses and sometimes they still needed to rely on Welfare to support them. At age 7 Oprah was sent to live with her father and step-mother, Zelma, in Nashville. Vernon and Zelma were unable to have children of their own, they were happy to have Oprah live with them. When she moved with her father and step-mother she had her own room and her own bed for the first time. She attended Wharton Elementary school and skipped another grade going into the third grade. Oprah attended church on a regular basis in Nashville, and began to speak publicly again. When third grade was over Oprah went to visit her mother, who had had another child named Jeffrey. Oprah decided to stay with her mother versus returning to Nashville with her father and step-mother. This is when Oprah turned to television and thought that one day she would become famous. Oprah’s mother worked a lot, leaving her and her sibling in the care of a 19 year-old cousin. Oprah suffered many hardships in her younger years she was molested at age 9 by her cousin, and then suffered repeated abuse by other’s in throughout her youth. With the abuse that she had suffered and not being able to talk about it she started to act out skipping school, dating, stealing money from her mother and running away from home. Vernita could not handle Oprah and sent her back to live with her father in Nashville. At age 14, Oprah found out that she was pregnant; she was 7 months along before she told her father or anyone else of the pregnancy. She couldn’t hide the pregnancy any longer do to her growing belly and swollen feet so she told her father, and then shortly after telling her father that she was pregnant Oprah gave birth to a baby boy that didn’t live for very long after birth, he died due to complications from being born premature. Oprah saw this as a sign at a second chance at life for herself. Oprah’s father was very strict and school was to be her top priority. When she was in his home living he set a curfew for midnight, she was also required to read a book and write a book report each week. Oprah’s father provided the discipline that she didn’t receive when she lived with her mother and this enabled her to straighten her life out and make something of herself, and if she had stayed living with her mother she would not have has the chance to do. In 1971, Oprah was asked to attend the White House Conference on Youth in Colorado and represent Tennessee with another student. After this when Oprah was still in high school she landed her first job as a reporter for WVOL radio station in Nashville. Oprah entered into college shortly after high school going to...
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