O'Brien received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Stony Brook University in 2016.

She was selected as the 2016 recipient of The Nichols-Chancellor's Medal at Vanderbilt University.

On May 18, 2014, she was the Commencement speaker at Spelman College (Atlanta, GA), and was awarded the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane letters

In July 2010, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) awarded Soledad O'Brien as the organization's 2010 Journalist of the Year.

She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, which named her the Journalist of the Year 2010, and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

In November 2008, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health awarded CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien the Goodermote Humanitarian Award for her efforts while reporting on the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Asian Tsunami.

Soledad received an Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award for her coverage of the South Asian tsunami.

O'Brien won Peabody Awards for the coverage of Hurricane Katrina and BP oil spill.

In April 2008, she became the first recipient of the Soledad O’Brien Freedom’s Voice Award, an award created in her name by Morehouse School of Medicine. "The award was created to recognize her accomplishments and willingness to be a voice for the voiceless in our society, and her determination to cover stories that might otherwise go untold. It will be given annually to mid-career professionals who serve as catalysts for social change in their given fields."

NAACP President's Award, 2007
O'Brien was awarded the NAACP President's Award in 2007 in recognition of her humanitarian efforts and journalistic excellence.

Also in 2007, O'Brien garnered a Gracie Allen Award for her reporting from Cyprus on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict as well as her reports from the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

O'Brien has given several keynote speeches over the years, including the undergraduate commencement at Bryant University in May 2007, where she was presented with a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree

She is a member of the Board of Directors of The After-School Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for all students.She also serves on the board of directors of The Harlem School of the Arts.

She was named to Irish American Magazine's "Top 100 Irish Americans" on two occasions. She is also on Black Enterprise magazine's 2005 Hot List. In 2005, she was awarded "Groundbreaking Latina of the Year" award by Catalina magazine.

She has been named in People's 50 Most Beautiful in 2001 and in People en EspaƱol's 50 Most Beautiful in 2004.

O'Brien has won an Emmy award for co-hosting the Discovery Channel's The Know Zone from 1993-1996.

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