UK singer and actress Leigh-Anne Pinnock has been awarded an honorary doctorate of the arts by Buckinghamshire New University.
Her doctorate underscores her work as co-founder of The Black Fund charity, which supports organizations that are “shaping, changing, and supporting the lives of the black community in the UK,” according to the organization’s website.
While she is tremendously grateful for her successful music career, she finds it “so rewarding” to have her campaign acknowledged and respected and said she was “extremely proud to be here today” at the ceremony on Wednesday.
“Alongside my music, this is a role that becomes more important to me every single day,” she shared.
She continued that her story “mirrors many of the student’s experiences.”
“It’s a story of a woman who had a passion, who had a goal that she thought might just be achievable,” she said. “But it’s also a story of a woman who, thanks to the support of her mentors and believers… [and] along with a lot of hard work and dedication, eventually got where she wanted to be.”
She told students, whatever their goals were, “The most important thing you can do is believe in yourself and surround yourself with others who believe in you too.”
She accompanied graduating students to receive her award with her mentor and the university’s chancellor, TV presenter Jay Blades.
The BBC reported Blades has known the singer for almost 20 years and said she “uses her platform for the good of society and has never forgotten her roots.”
Following Little Mix’s win on X-Factor in 2011, the 31-year-old and her fellow group members rose to superstardom shortly afterward.
Striking gold with hit singles like “Shout Out to My Ex” and “Woman Like Me,” they’ve become one of the best-selling girl groups ever.
In 2021, the group declared it would be “taking a little break” but was “not splitting up,” the BBC reported.
Pinnock is working on solo projects, and last month, she released her first solo single, “Don’t Say Love.”
The star opened up about her experience of racism, both growing up and as the only Black group member, in her 2021 documentary Leigh Anne: Race, Pop and Power.