Stormzy said he was “extremely blessed and grateful” to receive an honorary degree from the University of Exeter.
During his graduation speech on Tuesday, June 21, the musician said people should “always share and support, uplift and help wherever we can.”
The grime superstar received the honor in recognition of his “outstanding achievements in the fields of higher education, philanthropy and expanding participation.”
The 28-year-old rapper made his classmates laugh as he joked, “I’m going out into the world. I am now a philanthropist.”
He said: “I used to really turn down the tributes and applause that come with something that I really believe is just part of my destiny… the famous analogy I’ve always used compares it to one Her friends coming into the store and picking up some bags of chips and some bottles of Lucozade for all the boys.
“Of course it’s a kind gesture, but it doesn’t deserve a song or a dance because that’s exactly what you do for your loved ones.”
He continued, “I’ve been so richly blessed of God, and I don’t mean just financially, I mean with love and life and family and joy and with peace and purpose, so to put it simply, I’m bearing the fruit and I’m sharing fruit, and without sounding too fanciful, that’s exactly what we’re supposed to be doing in every way possible.
“Some of our destinies are to save a life, some of us are destined to build nations and schools, some of us will focus on raising our families and those closest to us, some of us will become our local community help, some of us will help the neighbor next door, some of us will help the world, some of us will help a friend.
“My point is that we should always share and support, uplift and help in whatever way we are able to. All these different sizes and levels of being a helping hand are all beautiful and all just as powerful as each other.”
The rapper, whose real name is Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr., founded the #Merky Foundation in 2020 and has pledged millions to fight against racial inequality, judicial reform and black empowerment in Britain.
The award-winning grime artist began providing scholarships to black students at the University of Cambridge to address the relatively small number of black students attending Oxbridge institutions.
Last year a new philanthropic partnership was formed between HSBC UK and the #Merky Foundation to ensure a further 30 Stormzy Scholars are funded over the next three years to cover tuition and maintenance costs.
During his graduation speech on Tuesday, Stormzy said: “I feel very blessed and grateful to be up here and to receive this honorary degree.
“The journey I have taken to get to this moment has been very different from yours, you have had the guts, guts and determination it takes to study for years and graduate. While I got my AS results freshman year of college and said ‘see you later’.
“A year later, I re-swung my A-levels at another college until I sat down for my first English exam in January and left after 10 minutes.
“It took you a hell of a lot to get here today, your journeys up until this moment have been hard fought, the path you’ve taken hasn’t been easy, and that comes from someone trying to walk the exact same path and failed.
“So from the bottom of my heart I say congratulations, well done, you should all be so proud of yourselves, what you have achieved is incredible, let no one downplay it, let no one undermine it.
“If you sit in this room today, you are worthy and brilliant.”
Stormzy said he couldn’t finish his speech without giving a “call out” to his mother, who was sitting in the crowd.
“It’s always been her biggest dream for me to go to university and graduate and then become somebody, so it really comes full circle at that moment,” he added.
At the ceremony, graduates who graduated in 2020 celebrated their achievements after the pandemic ended graduation ceremonies for the past two years.