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UEL’s Class of 2020 gets a virtual round of applause

Tower Bridge at night

Rapper Dizzee Rascal was among those wishing the University of East London's Class of 2020 well in their future endeavours during a virtual celebration

The University hosted the event on 9 September because Covid-19 regulations have resulted in the postponement of 2020 graduation ceremonies.

Dizzee Rascal, whom UEL was made an honorary Doctor of Arts in 2013, told students, “I would like to send my congratulations to University of East London graduates. I hope you enjoy yourself, celebrate this moment and, as you go on, if it ever gets tough, remember why you’re doing it.”

Professor Amanda Broderick, vice-chancellor and president, said, “No one could have predicted how, in 2020, the planet would be turned upside down by the global Covid-19 pandemic. Despite these grave and unprecedented trials, the University of East London community has risen to the challenge.  And we are thriving. I am proud to say that we continue to be on the frontline of a global quest to ensure higher education makes a positive impact on society.

“From serving on the frontline at NHS Nightingale to producing face shields for the NHS using our 3D printing facilities, our community has truly shown resilience and an ability to adapt to change. Our students have shown the endurance and ability to adapt in a rapidly changing, often unimaginable world. I am confident that as they take their first, continuing or advanced steps into exciting careers, new study opportunities or other life experiences, they will not just survive but they will thrive.”

In addition to Dizzee Rascal, messages of congratulations were sent in by luminaries including Alison Steadman OBE, actress; Ruby Wax OBE, actress, comedian, writer and mental health campaigner; Stephen Timms, East Ham MP; Bobby Barnes, a former professional footballer; Lord Sebastian Coe KBE, a British politician and track and field Olympic gold medallist.

UEL staff also recorded well wishes. Ruth Jacob, senior lecturer in fashion marketing, said, “I want to congratulate you all on making it through, not only this academic year, but your programme. There’s been a lot of ups and downs but you have really pulled yourself through. You have been an incredible group of students and I’ve seen you come up with amazing ideas and topics and it’s been such a great year.”

Insia Durrani, activities and opportunities officer at the University of East London Students’ Union, spoke about the importance of looking to the future during the celebration. She said, “Some of you will have your life figured out and some of you may not know where you’re going to be in six months or what your future holds and that’s ok. Everyone walks at different speeds.

“Careers are not linear, and you don’t have to have everything mapped out. You had the advantage of studying in a cultural melting pot in the City and it’s a privilege to be able to work and learn in such a diverse community. This year has been full of changes and keeping an open mind will help you embrace these changes.”

The ceremony closed with a performance by a University of East London choir led by Tristan Parkes, senior lecturer in performing arts.

After the virtual ceremony, students had a choice of four afterparties to attend. Each was hosted by an established artist: Britain’s Got Talent finalist and comedian, Daliso Chaponda; MTV presenter and DJ Harriet Rose; magician Guy Parker; and Kerri Watt, singer.

The event and the afterparties can be accessed by students and staff via the following links: Virtual celebration; Magic with Guy Parker; Musical performance by Kerri Watt; Comedy with Daliso Chapondra; and DJ Harriet Rose.