Congratulations to the University of Exeter's newest graduate — Stormzy!
Stormzy - whose real name is Michael Owuo Jr. - has been awarded an honourary degree as a result of his “remarkable contribution to society and extraordinary talent,” the university said in a statement..
The rapper from Thornton Heath, South London said he felt “extremely blessed and grateful” to receive his honorary degree and congratulated the others graduating for having “the guts and the grit and the dedication that it takes to study for years and to finish your degree”.
“I got my AS results in my first year of college and said ‘Yeah, see you later’” he said.
“I didn’t have the same minerals that you guys have. A year later I took another swing at my A levels at a different college until I sat down for my English exam in January and walked out after 10 minutes.
He continued: “From the bottom of my heart, I say congratulations, well done and you should all be so proud of yourselves, what you have achieved is incredible. Don’t let anybody downplay it and don’t let anybody undermine it. If you are sat in this room today you are worthy and you are brilliant.
“When I asked what exactly am I receiving this honour for I was told, and I quote, ‘It is in recognition of your outstanding achievements in the field of higher education, philanthropy and widening participation, and I was like, ‘Rah boy check me out. They’re calling lil’ old Mike a philanthropist,'” he said.
Professor Lisa Roberts, University of Exeter Vice-Chancellor, said: “We are proud to honour Michael for his remarkable contribution to society and extraordinary talent. He is an outstanding musician and wordsmith, and he inspires people to speak openly about their beliefs and fight for their rights."
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In 2020, Stormzy launched the #Merky Foundation, which pledged £10 million over 10 years to support organisations, charities and movements that work to end racial inequality within the UK.
In partnership with HSBC, Stormzy’s #Merky Foundation has also helped 10 students with a £20,000 annual scholarship to cover tuition fees and maintenance costs.
So far, six students have been helped by the fund, which saw HSBC donate £2million to support a further 30 Stormzy Scholars in the next three years.
As well as this, Stormzy owns #MerkyBooks in partnership with Penguin Randon House UK, which provides young and underrepresented authors the opportunity to publish their work.
In 2021, Superheroes: Inspiring Stories of Secret Strength was published by Stormzy and celebrates over 50 iconic racialised British public figures.
Influential musician and social justice campaigner Michael Owuo Jr praised the “guts, grit and dedication” of students as we awarded him an honorary degree from today for his work to promote education and fighting racial inequality. #Stormzy https://t.co/k98P18477S pic.twitter.com/G71H0fzaEW— University of Exeter (@UniofExeter) June 21, 2022
Watch Stormzy's acceptance speech below by skipping to the the 1:10:10 point in the video.
Becky Buckle is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter