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Graduation Day joy for Honorary awardees who studied at UWL

UWL Chancellor Laurence Geller CBE

UWL graduates who have excelled in professional life since leaving the Career University collected honorary doctorates in celebration of their outstanding achievements, this week.

During two days of graduation ceremonies at the iconic Wembley Stadium, the University bestowed honorary doctorates upon 11 individuals – including some who previously completed undergraduate degrees at the University.

UWL is known as the Career University for the very good reason that graduate employment indicators figures show an incredible 98%* of UWL graduates are in work or further study within six months of graduating, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Former students enjoying a second UWL graduation day this week included Rebecca Harris – who studied Film Production at the University's London School of Film, Media and Design. This year, a film she produced won an Oscar at the Academy Awards in Hollywood. Also awarded an honorary award this year was Leyla Hussein, a psychotherapist and noted campaigner against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). Meanwhile, 24 years after collecting a degree at a previous Wembley graduation ceremony, distinguished lawyer Justine Stephenson returned to be presented with an honorary doctorate in recognition of her career achievements.

Rebecca Harris only graduated her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2013. To return for a second graduation only five years later was ‘surreal,’ she said. Rebecca's honorary doctorate has been awarded for her role as producer of The Silent Child, a film about a small deaf girl which garnered the Oscar for Best Live Action Short, this year.

Rebecca Harris made Honorary Doctorate for her role in Oscar-winning film

‘It’s so much to take in’ Rebecca admitted. ‘It feels amazing and odd to be back here after five years. My family are here too and it’s a bit surreal for them as well.’

Leyla Hussein used to study at the School of Human and Social Sciences, before embarking upon an award-wining campaign against FGM, which includes the Dahlia Project, a therapeutic service for survivors of the practice.

‘I feel extremely privileged and it’s a big deal for me personally, Leyla said. 'I used to be a student here years ago. My family have been academics, but they've never had a female doctor, so I’m making history in my family. They loved being here today because they have been with me on the journey of doing this work for the past 16 years. They’ve seen the tears and frustration and the many joys.’

Award-winning campaigner Leyla Hussein

Successful legal practitioner Justine Stephenson studied for an LLB at the School of Law and Criminology, going on to enjoy hold a number of key roles in the area of regulation. Wembley’s old Twin Towers were still standing when she graduated the first time.

‘I’m truly honoured and feel very proud to receive this Honorary Doctorate. I’ve been associated with the University for 27 years, since I enrolled on a LLB honours degree at what was then TVU and I collected my award at Wembley – but it didn’t look like it does today.’

It is important for young people to have opportunities to join the legal profession, such as UWL provides,' she said. ‘I think it’s very important because the law has to represent society. It’s also important that students understand not everyone goes straight into the city earning a six-figure salary. A successful career is a question of finding an area you’re interested in and then excelling within that.’
(l-r) Lord Faringdon, Pro Chancellor, Professor Peter John, Vice-Chancellor, Justine Stephenson, Laurence Geller CBE, Chancellor, Chris Humphries, Chair of Governors

Wednesday was day two of the University of West London's summer graduations. Graduands collected undergraduate degrees today in courses provided by the School of Law and Criminology, The Claude Littner Business School, the College of Nursing and Engineering and the School of Computing and Engineering.