She is one of a number of honorary graduates who embody the University’s values of inclusivity, social mobility and transforming lives and have been honoured during Sheffield Hallam’s graduation fortnight.
The Spice Girls singer and bestselling children’s author collected her award this afternoon, alongside over 8,000 students who are graduating from the University throughout November.
On receiving her award during the ceremony, Geri said: “It is a great privilege to receive this honorary award from Sheffield Hallam University. I sincerely believe education is a superpower – we are learning machines and I am still learning. I’ve learnt that students here at Sheffield Hallam graduate with more than a degree, but with a passion, a focus and a vision for life. You remind us that it’s not just about making a living but about making a difference, to be true to yourselves and do what you love.
“I was studying A-level English literature before I embarked on a different kind of adventure, so I didn’t go to university – but I always valued my education and my love of reading, storytelling and words. I always had my education to lean on. Education is power. It gives confidence and opens eyes, hearts and minds. Sheffield Hallam University, I look forward to our future endeavours. Congratulations to all the graduates. Whatever you do I wish you success and the best.”
Geri rose to fame in the 1990s as part of the Spice Girls, selling over 100 million records worldwide to become the best-selling female group of all time. She has continued to use her considerable media platform and philanthropic work to champion children’s literacy and access to education and inspire women of all backgrounds to achieve their best.
Other recipients of honorary doctorate awards from the University this year include the Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation in recognition of its efforts to keep the Peak District and those who visit it safe; TV presenter, broadcaster and Sheffield Hallam alum Ayo Akinwolere; and Maddy Desforges OBE, chief executive officer at National Association for Voluntary and Community Action.
Lord Simon Stevens, former chief executive of the NHS; Sheffield’s most senior civil judge his Honour Judge Graham Robinson; the first woman to take the role of the Lady Usher of the Black Rod in the House of Lords and former director of Wimbledon Sarah Clarke OBE; and Anne Longfield CBE, Chair of the Commission on Young Lives and the former Children’s Commissioner for England, are all collecting honorary awards.
Judy Simons, the first woman professor at Sheffield Hallam University, and Carly Jones MBE, an autism advocate who has dedicated her career to increasing the visibility of autistic people, particularly women and girls, also receive honorary doctorate awards this year.
Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Every year Sheffield Hallam welcomes a small number of honorary degree recipients to our community. This year’s honorary graduates represent the diversity of the University’s work, locally, nationally and internationally. We welcome all of them, and we look forward to engaging them in our work as a pioneering university.”
Honorary doctorates are awarded by universities to recognise outstanding achievement in a particular field or service to the broader community. Sheffield Hallam University has been awarding the accolades since gaining status as a university in 1993.