Stormzy receives honorary degree from University of Exeter
Stormzy has been given an honorary degree by the University of Exeter.
The UK rapper, real name Michael Owuo Jr, was given the honour for his “remarkable contribution to society and extraordinary talent,” the university said. Professor Lisa Roberts, University of Essex’s Vice-Chancellor added that he is “an outstanding musician and wordsmith [who] inspires people to speak openly about their beliefs and fight for their rights”.
She continued: “The University of Exeter has put social justice at the heart of its new ten-year strategy which includes opening doors to people from all walks of life into higher education and it was wonderful to hear Michael’s powerful speech today to students and graduates.”
Stormzy gave a speech when receiving the honour, and praised the graduating class for having “the guts and the grit and the dedication that it takes to study for years and to finish your degree”.
Reflecting on his own time in education, he added: “I got my AS results in my first year of college and said, ‘Yeah, see you later’. 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.
“It took a hell of a lot for you to get here today. Your journeys to get to this moment were hard-fought. The road you took was not easy. And this is coming from someone who tried to walk that exact same road and failed.
“So 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.”
Speaking about what the university said to him relating to why he’d been given the degree, Stormzy said: “I asked what exactly I am 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.”
Among the artist’s philanthropic efforts in the field of education is his #MerkyBooks imprint in partnership with Penguin Random House, through which he has given young and under-represented writers the chance to publish their own writing.
You can watch Stormzy’s acceptance speech via the video below, with it beginning at the 1:10:10 mark.
Earlier this year, Stormzy revealed that fans could expect to hear his third studio album later this year.