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City’s famous names send message of congratulations to Birmingham graduates

Thousands of Birmingham students have been given a unique celebration to mark the end of their studies, including receiving special messages of congratulations from some of the city’s biggest names in politics, sport and TV.

Birmingham City University hosted virtual graduation celebrations to give students the chance to celebrate and commemorate finishing their degrees whilst restrictions on public gatherings remain in place.

Famous names came together to send their congratulations to students including West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, Warwickshire Country cricketer Ian Bell and Coronation Street star and fellow Birmingham City University graduate, Rob Mallard.

All students will be given the opportunity to cross the stage at an in-person graduation ceremony when it is safe to do so, but the virtual celebration made sure students, friends and family could come together to mark the end of their studies.

Tutors and lecturers also gave live speeches to address the students, alongside recorded messages from the University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Philip Plowden and another of the region’s famous faces, Birmingham City University Chancellor Sir Lenny Henry.

Addressing graduating students, Chancellor Sir Lenny Henry said: “Each and every one of you celebrating today, has shown dedication and personal commitment to just be here.

“Just by being here you have shown you have what it takes to be a success. Resilience, determination, a commitment to hard work and most importantly how to stealthily WhatsApp your mate during a Zoom lecture.

“I read a great thing the other day and it’s about what leads to great success in life. It’s a quote from Buddha. ‘If you want to fly, give up everything that weighs you down’.”

“I want you guys to achieve all the things you want to, and you’re going to do it, this is the beginning of that time so please let go of anxiety, self-doubt, unsupportive influences and fly like eagles.”

Attendees were given a first-hand view of a bespoke piece of music composed by Ryan Linham, titled ‘The Legend of the Lockdown Leavers’, specially commissioned for the occasion and performed by students at the University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Over 2,000 people attended the virtual celebrations, which were hosted for students graduating from all of the University’s courses.

Bespoke videos, speeches and imagery were created for each Faculty highlighting some of the students’ biggest achievements during their time at the University. Each celebration closed with a retrospective video showcasing major events at the institution over the last three years.

All graduating students will be invited to attend a traditional graduation ceremony at a later date, where they will be given the opportunity to don a cap a gown and formally cross the stage.

Among those graduating were the first cohort of Black Studies students to complete a degree in the subject anywhere in Europe.

Watch the messages sent to graduating students here.