By CBSLA Staff

SANTA BARBARA (CBSLA) – Oprah Winfrey delivered the keynote address in an online commencement ceremony Saturday for graduates of UC Santa Barbara’s Class of 2021.

The virtual graduation ceremony kicked off a day of multiple online or small in-person celebration organized by the university’s schools, academic divisions and departments, as allowed by public health order.

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Current restrictions are still in place for large public gatherings, so the campus is unable to host its traditional graduation ceremonies.

“We want to recognize all you have accomplished during your time at UC Santa Barbara. In this spirit, we will hold a year-end celebration with an extraordinary guest speaker,” UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang wrote to students and other members of the campus community. “My wife, Dilling and I spoke with [Winfrey] and invited her to deliver a message of inspiration in honor of our graduating class, and she graciously accepted.”

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Along with being a world renowned talk show host and media mogul, Winfrey is a dedicated philanthropist, having built a school in South Africa that began operating in 2007 and has contributed more than $200 million to providing education for academically gifted girls from gifted backgrounds, according to a UCSB press release.

The university also held a Grad Walk procession on June 7 that included having their names read aloud as they crossed the stage and had their picture taken with the campus lagoon in the background. That processional was live-streamed for parents, family and friends.

Graduates of UCSB’s Class of 2020, who were unable to have an in-person graduation ceremony due to the pandemic last year, were also invited to participate in the Grad Walk.

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