Stormzy has accomplished a lot in a relatively short amount of time. In addition to rising to the forefront of the UK rap scene, winning Best Grime Act MOBO Awards in back-to-back years, earning the first UK Albums Chart No. 1 for a grime album in 2017 with his debut album Gang Signs & Prayer, winning British Album of the Year at the 2018 Brit Awards, and headlining Glastonbury in 2019, Stormzy has just reached an even rarer height, receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Exeter recognizing his “outstanding achievements in the field of higher education philanthropy and widening participation”.
Stormzy has been an advocate for change in Great Britain since the beginning of his career, pushing against racial injustice and engaging in philanthropy and activism, funding the Stormzy Scholarship for Black UK Students at the University Of Cambridge.
At the ceremony where he was awarded his honorary doctorate and addressed the graduating class, Stormzy 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.”
You can watch Stormzy’s speech in the recorded ceremony above, at around 1:10:00.