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News article

York St John University students to celebrate graduation success

Published: 06 November 2023

  •   Featured
  •   Events
A group of female graduates in gowns throwing up their caps outside York Minster

Thousands of York St John University students to mark the end of their degrees at graduation ceremonies taking place in York Minster from 13 to 17 November. 

Graduation ceremonies are a highlight of the student experience at York St John University. The Class of 2023 will celebrate their achievements at 9 ceremonies taking place from Monday 13 to Friday 17 November 2023. The ceremonies will be presided over by the University’s Chancellor, BBC presenter Reeta Chakrabarti; Pro Chancellor Dame Julia Unwin DBE and Vice Chancellor of York St John University, Professor Karen Bryan OBE. 

Vice Chancellor of York St John University, Professor Karen Bryan OBE, said: 

“Graduation marks an important milestone for our Class of 2023. It provides a chance for our students to enjoy the result of their hard work and perseverance. As a community, we are so proud of their individual accomplishments, and I am delighted to be celebrating with them alongside their families, friends and university tutors.”   

Amongst those graduating is Richard Holmes, a product design graduand. During his studies Richard took part in weekly volunteering at Refugee Action York (RAY) drop-ins on campus, opening his eyes to the challenges faced by refugees and migrants. Using his product design skills and problem-solving mindset, Richard developed a flashcard system which used intuitive hand gestures aimed to overcome significant language barriers between service users and support services. Accessing support and funding from the York St John’s Kickstart Programme enabled Richard to pitch and compete for funding for his project ‘Global Anthem’. In June 2023 Richard won Ingenuity Programme’s Impact Entrepreneur of the Year award for Global Anthem. The award recognised Richard's innovation and dedication to designing a hand gesture flashcard system which facilitates effective communication for refugees and migrants facing language barriers.  

The University will also award honorary degrees to Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard, London’s Deputy Mayor for Communities and Social Justice and Hetan Shah, Chief Executive at the British Academy.  

Dr Debbie Weekes-Bernard will be awarded a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) in recognition of her commitment to inclusion and equality of opportunity for all. She joined London’s mayoral team in 2018 making it her mission to ensure that the vast and diverse population of the country’s capital has a voice in the city. Prior to this role, Debbie led the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s work on poverty and ethnicity, providing crucial insights into the realities for lone parents, young people, and education. Debbie also steered the Runnymede Trust’s work on inclusive curriculum development and community cohesion as their Head of Research.   

Hetan Shah is a passionate business leader, whose commitment to creating a fairer society has led him to hold a number of notable positions across the public and third sectors. He will receive a Doctor of Science (honoris causa). Hetan is currently Chief Executive of the British Academy, the UK’s national academy for humanities and social sciences. Alongside this role, he is Chair of Our World in Data, an organisation which brings together research and data to make progress against global challenges. He is also a member of the Social Metrics Commission which works to improve measures of UK poverty. Hetan has held roles on boards including Chair of the York based Friends Provident Foundation which supports a fairer economy, and Vice Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute which promotes artificial intelligence that works for people and society.   

The livestreams from all of the graduation ceremonies can be viewed on the York St John University Events page on YouTube.

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