Leigh-Anne Pinnock was awarded an honorary doctorate from Buckinghamshire New University on Wednesday.
The Little Mix singer received the honour in recognition of her successful musical career and her work on racial equality and anti-racism, especially through her work as the co-founder of The Black Fund charity.
Collecting her award onstage, Leigh-Anne said, “I never imagined I’d be stood here today with an Honorary Doctorate in the Arts. It’s such a privilege to be recognised by such a credible, creative, and supportive university so I am extremely happy and proud to be here today.
“And while I am blessed to have had a successful recording career, it is so rewarding that it’s my work as a campaigner for racial equality and anti-racism that is being recognised today. Alongside my music, this is a role that becomes more important to me every single day.”
The singer co-founded The Black Fund charity, supporting organisations which are “shaping, changing, and supporting the lives of the black community in the UK”. In 2021, she released the documentary Leigh-Anne: Race, Pop & Power.
Offering some advice to the graduates, she added, “The most important thing you can do is believe in yourself and surround yourself with others who believe in you too. Because, with a lot of work, and perhaps a little bit of luck, your goals are achievable too.”
Leigh-Anne, who returned to her hometown of High Wycombe to collect the honour, received her honorary doctorate in the company of her ex-mentor and Black Fund Trustee Jay Blades, the university’s Chancellor.
Upon her arrival at the university’s campus, the 31-year-old was surprised by a flash mob of dance students who performed a routine to her debut solo single Don’t Say Love.