AceShowbiz - Leigh-Anne Pinnock has been given an honorary doctorate from a UK university. The Little Mix star was recognized for her career achievements and her work fighting racism by officials at the Buckinghamshire New University (BNU) in her hometown of High Wycombe this week when she was welcomed by a flashmob of students performing her song "Don't Say Love" before joining hundreds of graduates at the institution's graduation ceremony.
"Growing up I must have walked past BNU's High Wycombe campus a million times, curious about what was being studied and taught there," Leigh-Anne said of her honorary degree. "But in all that time I never imagined I'd be stood here today with an Honorary Doctorate in the Arts. It's such a privilege to be recognised by such a credible, creative, and supportive university so I am extremely happy and proud to be here today."
The pop star went on to say, "In many ways my story is one that I think mirrors many of the students' experiences here today. It's a story of a woman who had a passion, who had a goal that she thought might just be achievable. But it's also a story of a woman who thanks to the support of her mentors and believers ... along with a LOT of hard work and dedication, eventually got where she wanted to be."
"And while I am blessed to have had a successful recording career, it is so rewarding that it's my work as a campaigner for racial equality and anti-racism that is being recognised today. Alongside my music, this is a role that becomes more important to me every single day."
Leigh-Anne concluded by giving an uplifting message to the graduates, saying, "The same could be true of all students graduating here this week too. Whether their goal is to succeed in the performing arts, design, nursing, aviation, business or law, the most important thing you can do is believe in yourself and surround yourself with others who believe in you too. Because, with a lot of work, and perhaps a little bit of luck, your goals are achievable too."
Leigh-Anne is a co-founder of The Black Fund charity and has been an outspoken campaigner on issues of equality and anti-racism. She was joined at the ceremony by her longtime friend Jay Blades, who is the chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University. Jay said of the singer, "Leigh-Anne couldn't deserve this more."
"Not only is she an incredible talent, but she also uses her platform for the good of society and has never forgotten her roots. I am so proud of all that she's achieved and was thrilled to be here today to see her recognised for her work. I mentor a few people so this is definitely a real full-circle moment for the both of us."
Professor Nick Braisby, the university's vice chancellor added, "Today BNU has celebrated Leigh-Anne Pinnock's remarkable achievements and her embodiment of the values of equality, community, and compassion, values that reflect what we represent here at Buckinghamshire New University. She reminds us that our voices matter and that we have the power to create positive change in our communities ... "