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Black History Month: LSBU Honorary Graduates

#BHM Honorary Graduates

Rio Ferdinand

Honorary Doctor of Letters, 2020 & 2021



Rio Ferdinand has won many plaudits for his footballing skill, but it is for his commitment to tackling inequality in all its forms, and the courage and resilience he has shown in sharing his own experiences for the benefit of others that we award him an honorary doctor of letters.
Since retiring, he has carved out a new career as a broadcaster and commentator as well as becoming an advocate for a range of issues including mental health, single parenthood and racism in sport.
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David Adjaye, OBE

Doctor of Science, 2011

Sir David Adjaye KCVO OBE was made an honorary Doctor of Science 2011, and LSBU is also where he studied for his architecture degree. He is now one of the world’s most recognisable and influential architects and is a visiting professor at Princeton University as well as having presented TV programmes on African architecture.
In London, his buildings include the Poplar and Whitechapel Idea Stores and the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford, which aims to encourage disadvantaged young people to pursue careers in architecture and urban design.
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Edna Adan Ismail

Honorary Doctor of Health and Social Care, 2018

Edna Adan Ismail (Nursing, 1956), who has been awarded an honorary doctorate in the School of Health and Social Care, was the first Somali woman to study in the UK, and the first to work as a qualified nurse.
She is also Somaliland’s first female politician, and has built her own teaching hospital and university, with the aim of raising standards of healthcare and education in her homeland.
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Dame Kelly Holmes, DBE

Honorary Fellowship, 2010

'Double Olympic Champion Col. Dame Kelly Holmes MBE (mil) is one of the UK’s most popular athletes, respected throughout the world as a role model and an inspiration. Setting and still holding the British records in the 800m and 1000m, Kelly is an Olympic, Commonwealth and European champion that has achieved seven Gold, eight Silver and four Bronze medals throughout her career. This includes her double win in the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, becoming the first Briton in over 80 years to do so. '
'Soon after this win, Kelly set up the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. The charity helps guide disadvantaged young people, getting their lives back on track by using world class athletes to engage, enable and empower, attitudes they need to fulfil a positive life. She encourages the same philosophy that she lives by, nothing is impossible.'

Lady Phyll

Honorary Doctor of Letters 2020 & 2021

A former trade unionist, co-founder of UK Black Pride and executive director of Kaleidoscope Trust, a UK-based charity working to uphold the human rights of LGBT+ people across the Commonwealth, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah – aka Lady Phyll – is one of the UK’s most influential change-makers.
She is made an honorary doctor of letters in recognition of her commitment to fighting for equality and freedom on behalf of under-represented and marginalised people everywhere.
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Dame Elizabeth Anionwu


Hailed as one of the UK's greatest ever nurses, Dame Elizabeth Anionwu has had an incredible career and a monumental impact on the nursing profession. From her early days as a health visitor through to becoming the first ever sickle cell nurse specialist, she has received countless honours & awards for her work, has been made patron to many organisations, including the Sickle Cell Society, and was declared one of the 70 most influential nurses & midwives in the history of the NHS.


To celebrate her life achievements, her 75th birthday (which took place in July) and her upcoming Honorary Graduate Award, LSBU's Institute of Health & Social Care are delighted to announce the launch of The LSBU Dame Elizabeth Anionwu Annual Lecture: Celebrating Inclusivity in Nursing & Midwifery.
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Dr Benjamin Zephaniah

Doctor of Letters, 2002

'[Benjamin Zephaniah] grew up in Jamaica and the Handsworth district of Birmingham, England, leaving school at 14. He moved to London in 1979 and published his first poetry collection, Pen Rhythm, in 1980. He was Writer in Residence at the Africa Arts Collective in Liverpool, and was a candidate for the post of Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.'
'Zephaniah’s work is often described as dub poetry, a form of oral performance poetry that is sometimes staged to music and which typically draws on the rhythms of reggae and the rhetoric of Rastafarianism. His poems are often inspired by political causes. Zephaniah has said that he ‘"lives in two places, Britain and the world."'

Afua Hirsch

Honorary Doctor of Letters, 2020 & 2021

Afua Hirsch qualified as a barrister before working as a print and TV journalist. Now a successful author and broadcaster, she recently set up her own production company, Born In Me.
My book, Brit(ish), felt like the culmination of all my ideas, all my thinking, all my writing up to that point. I could see that there was a whole new generation of young black British people struggling with the same questions of identity that I’d struggled with, and we didn’t seem to be any closer to having an answer."
You can find Brit(ish) in the Southwark Campus Library, LSBU Hub at 305.800941 HIR in Zone C, Level 02
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