Birmingham City University (BCU) is celebrating an incredible summer of graduations which saw more than 14,000 of its students cross the stage to officially become alumni.
Graduates from the classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 took part in the celebrations which saw 31 ceremonies being held across 12 days over July and August at the city’s Symphony Hall – with over 20,000 guests attending including proud family and friends.
This summer’s ceremonies were the first face-to-face graduations in over two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the opening ceremony on 11 July included a welcome address from the university’s Chancellor Sir Lenny Henry.
Saint Laya, aged 22, provided one of the many highlights of the graduations, with an epic celebratory dance when it was his turn to go on stage after graduating with a First Class degree in biomedical sciences. His dance moves made him a social media sensation, with millions of people viewing his graduation video.
Another key moment in BCU’s graduations saw Professor Mark Radford CBE, Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive at Health Education England, awarded the university’s ‘Alumnus of the Year’ for his work leading the nation’s Covid-19 NHS vaccine workforce programme.
Collecting his award, Professor Radford praised graduating BCU healthcare students for their “phenomenal contribution to the fight against Covid”.
Each year, the university makes a number of honorary doctorate awards which recognise outstanding service to the University, the city of Birmingham, and the West Midlands, or to public or professional life nationally and internationally.
Professor Phillip Plowden, Vice Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “What a genuine pleasure it has been to see thousands of our students, joined by their family and friends, celebrating their milestone achievements this summer.
“For many of those who were the classes of 2020 and 2021, it has been a long and patient wait due to Covid which impacted our ability to come together and celebrate in person.
“I am so deeply proud of the way our students navigated through all the challenges that the pandemic presented, and they should be rightly proud, too.
“At BCU we believe that studying at university should be a transformative experience, and we are confident that the time our graduates have spent with us will have provided them with the skills and confidence to succeed and make their mark on the world.”
This year’s honorary doctorates include: Mark Grundy, CEO of Shireland Collegiate Academy; Anthony McCourt, property developer; Jean Templeton, chief executive of homelessness charity St Basils; Patrick Thomas, graphic artist; Mark Radford, Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive at Health Education England; acclaimed business leaders Sultan Ahmed Choudhury OBE, Fleur Sexton, Paul Cadman and Paul Faulkner; Hurvin Anderson, contemporary artist; Ann Bentley, construction industry leader; Sukhi Clark, leading engineer; Frances Cook OBE, former chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform; Julian Dunkerton, fashion and retail leader; Bill Kilvington, healthcare leader; Denise Lewis OBE, former athlete and President of Commonwealth Games England; Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England; James Noble-Rogers, Executive Director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers; Dr Grace Ononiwu CBE, director of legal services for West Midlands CPS; Deborah Robinson, retail leader and Fairtrade pioneer; Pat Smart CBE, education leader; Paul Williams OBE, leading architect; Joanne Williams, CEO at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital; and Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health for Birmingham City Council.