Omarosa Manigault has faced challenge after challenge in her life that has nothing to do with her work on reality TV.
Among the list was a childhood raised in Youngstown housing projects, her brother Jack’s murder and the 2012 death of her fiancé, actor Michael Clarke Duncan.
If she knew one thing on her graduation day from Central State University that she knows now, Omarosa said it would be not to sweat the small stuff.
“When people say the sky is the limit, they mean it,” said the former star of the NBC’s “The Apprentice,” who worked in the White House under the Clinton administration.
She now has worked on BET as well as OWN’s “Raising Whitley” and Oxygen’s “Preachers of L.A.”.
Manigault, an ordained Baptist minister who studied in Dayton at the at United Theological Seminary before Duncan’s death, is set to give Central’s baccalaureate address tonight.
She said students should expect a sermon that touches on students letting their light shine in dark spaces, God’s plan and overcoming obstacles, among other things.
Here are three reasons Manigault jumped at the chance to deliver the address.
Her little cousin is graduating
Like Omarosa, Youngstown grad Shatasia Walker studied communications at Central and was a student athlete.
“We are very dramatic,” Omarosa said of the similarities between herself and her cousins.
Shatasia, the fifth in her family to follow Omarosa to Central State, considers her cousin a mentor.
“She has experienced what I am going through so she can guide me through,” she said.
She wants to raise awareness of Central’s plight
One of two historically black colleges in Ohio — nearby Wilberforce is the other — Central is struggling financially.
Omarosa said the institution is deserving and is unfairly underfunded compared to other institutions.
“We have to raise awareness that historically black colleges and university produce exceptionally talented young people,” she said.
Omarosa received her master’s and doctorate degrees from Howard University.
She said HBCU takes in and nurtures students, even those that other universities might reject.
“It breaks down the barriers that traditionally keep African Americans from achieving degrees,” she said of Central. “It is affordable, quality education for students.”
She loves Central
Omarosa said she fell for Central on her college visit.
“I just felt like they cared,” she said.”They were vested in my best interest, in my success.”
She said her “big personality and big mouth” were developed and embraced at the school.
“It created a safe place where the real Omarosa could emerge,” she said.