Phone cameras were ever ready, with guests, family and friends capturing the special memories that marked the incredible achievement of each of the graduates. This cohort achieved against all the odds, Professor Amanda Broderick, vice-chancellor and president, said.
Today is your reward for your commitment and resilience. You have achieved your degrees despite a set of adverse circumstances: Covid, pandemic, lockdown - these words were never part of your life and your studies. You learnt to adapt to very difficult circumstances very quickly and, more than that, you learned to prosper, to set aside or absorb the challenges and stay firmly focussed on the prize ahead.
"The stories you tell will carry similar themes to your predecessors: of accomplishment, of progress, of how you are making a positive difference in your community, of how you are creating a better and more equal society and world. You are remarkable, every one of you."
Although a time of celebration, each ceremony featured a minute of silence to mark the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Professor Broderick asked guests to reflect on the late Queen's lifetime of service and duty.
Professor Broderick said, "In this moment of personal celebration, I ask that we pause to reflect on the passing of Her Majesty the Queen, who passed away on 8 September, bringing to a gentle close a magnificent lifetime of service and duty. We offer our deepest condolence to the Royal Family and join the United Kingdom as a whole, the Commonwealth and people from around the world in cherishing the memories we hold of the Queen and of her reign, the role model she presented, the respect she was held in around the world, her conciliatory power, her duty and steadfast service: these are all elements of what we reflect today in thankfulness and also in hope for the future."
While the audience reflected, a montage of images of the Queen played on stage – some taken at the time of her visit to the University in 2007 when she officially opened its Knowledge Dock, library and Business School.
There was a double honour for internationally-renowned financier Anulika Ajufo, who in the summer stepped down from her role as chair of the Board of Governors at the University. In a special dedication ceremony, she not only received her honorary doctorate but was also awarded the first ever University Medal.
Ms Ajufo was the first Black woman appointed as chair of the Board of Governors at the University, one of only two Black women university chairs in the UK and the youngest chair ever of a university board.
Of her time and experience at UEL she said, "UEL has been a fantastic, life changing opportunity for me and I am forever thankful. I am so proud of where the University of East London is now, and I am so sure that based on the foundation that has been built over the last four years it will continue to strive and go from strength to strength."
Mohima Miah, who graduated with a BA (Hons) Special Education, said, "My experience at UEL was really good. The support system was amazing, and the academic advisors were life savers. Today's celebration was lovely. Now I've graduated I am going back to work in a school as a Special Educational Needs teacher. I will help children with behavioural needs and additional needs, and it is all encompassed into the degree I've done."
Hannah Clarke, who graduated with a BA (Hons) Criminology and Psychology, said, "UEL has been a great place to study, learn and develop as a student. It was great to celebrate three years of hard work with my peers and acknowledging how well we have all done."