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Seven Women Who Received Honorary Degrees

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Grad season is here. You have finally reached the end of the road to the most stressful but best time in your life. You can now rejoice because you are official done with school, but now what? If the transition into the “real world” isn’t what you expected, here are seven women whose stories will grant you all the #blackgirlmagic you need to push forward and kick ass in your field!


Aretha Franklin: The “Queen of Soul” obtained an honorary doctor of arts degree from Harvard University in 2014. While she did give the commencement speech, Franklin gave an amazing rendition of the national anthem Alicia Keys style. (only piano.)


Kerry Washington: Before she was cast as Olivia Pope, Washington was cast as a frog in the musical “Croak, or The Last Frog” on the campus of George Washington University where she earned her a Bachelor of Arts in 1998. In 2013, 15 years later The “Scandal” actress served as the commencement speaker and was awarded an honorary doctor of fine arts degree.



Oprah Winfrey: In 2011, Tennessee State University alumni Oprah Winfrey received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Free State in South Africa. She was awarded the degree for her commitment to education in Africa.


Global media leader, philanthropist, producer and actress Oprah Winfrey shows off her honorary degree May 21, 2017 during the 139th commencement ceremony at Smith College Quadrangle in Northampton.


Maya Angelou: Maya Angelou has several honorary awards. In 2001 the poet was presented with the Doctor Of Letters from Hope College where she spoke at the commencement ceremony.

Maya Angelou Receives Honorary Doctorate from Shenandoah University. (PRNewsFoto/Shenandoah University, Matthew Lofton)


Michelle Obama: Our “Forever First Lady” has received several honorary degrees but in 2012, Michelle Obama was awarded a public health doctorate degree for her work in promoting a healthier and nutritious way of living, and encouraging activities to cut down on childhood obesity from Oregon State University.


First Lady Michelle Obama holds up her diploma after receiving an honorary degree during the Oregon State University graduation ceremony in Corvallis, Ore., Sunday June 17, 2012. The First Lady gave the commencement address at Oregon State University, the school where her brother is the head basketball coach. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Jill Scott: In 2016 Grammy Award winning singer Jill Scott received the honor of Doctor of Humane Letters from her alma matter, Temple University. The President of Temple University said that Scott “values and achievements embody the mission and ideas of the university.”


Patti LaBelle: Our favorite diva Patti Labelle also received a doctorate degree in the honor of Doctor of Humane Letters from Temple University in 2010. Although she did not attend the college, LaBelle partnered with the university to raise awareness about diabetes.

Congrats to all of the graduates!


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