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Rapper Stormzy gets honorary degree from University of Exeter

By Will Goddard

22nd Jun 2022 | Local News

Rapper Michael Owuo Jr, known as 'Stormzy', has been given an honorary degree from the University of Exeter for his work promoting education and fighting racial inequality.

Mr Owuo, from Thornton Heath, South London, said that he felt "extremely blessed and grateful" in a speech at a graduation ceremony on Tuesday (21 June).

His two albums to date are Gang Signs & Prayer and Heavy Is The Head. Both reached number one in the UK album chart and were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. 

He also created a scholarship scheme, Stormzy Scholarship, to help black British students be able to afford to go to the University of Cambridge. So far, six students have been supported. HSBC has also donated £2m to support a further 30 students over the next three years.

His charity the #Merky Foundation also supports organisations, charities, and movements that are 'committed to fighting racial inequality, justice reform and black empowerment within the UK'.

In his speech, Mr Owuo said: "The journey I took to get to this moment has been considerably different to yours. You guys have the guts and the grit and the dedication that it takes to study for years and to finish your degree…whereas 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."

During his speech Mr Owuo also thanked his mother: "[She] is sitting there beaming with pride and joy right now because her biggest dream for me was for me to go to university and graduate and then become somebody so this moment is real full circle.

"And I always say that God has a funny way of bringing you exactly where you were meant to end up."

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