Thousands receive degrees at University of Brighton graduation

Claudia and Katia Cordoso and Tom and Shane Sayers
Claudia and Katia Cordoso and Tom and Shane Sayers

Two sets of identical twins were among the 4,400 students to graduate from the University of Brighton this week.

All four were awarded degrees from the same Graphic Design course, and Claudia Cardoso said she and her sister Katia, 22, both from North London, couldn’t believe it when they met Shane and Tom Sayers, 21, from south east London.

Michael and Hannah Eavis

Michael and Hannah Eavis

She said: “It was just amazing – and all of us doing the same course.”

Shane said: “It was incredible meeting the sisters – they are great and I’m sure we will all keep in touch.”

Both sets of twins have similar plans to celebrate their academic success. They are both about to travel abroad – the Sayers to Indonesia and the Cardosas to Costa Rica and New York.

Thousands of students from 90 countries will be taking part in graduation ceremonies at the Brighton Centre this week.

University of Brighton graduations

University of Brighton graduations

Vice-Chancellor Professor Debra Humphris said: “Graduation ceremonies are always the high-point of the academic year, bringing together as they do the whole University community with our graduates and their families and friends.

“As a University we are committed to realising potential and shaping futures for the better and are immensely proud of the continuing achievements of our students and alumni as they make their own unique mark upon the world.”

One of the famous faces in the crowd yesterday (Tuesday) was the man behind the Glastonbury Festival. He watched his granddaughter Hannah Eavis graduate with a Fine Art Painting degree.

Michael Eavis, 81, said: “I’m a very proud grandfather today and it was great looking at a different stage.”

Fox Fisher

Fox Fisher

Hannah is in the throes of getting a job with a well-known fashion house and her grandfather has little doubt she will be a name to reckon with: “Watch out – this girl is going places.”

As part of the graduation ceremonies, a number of honorary degrees are being presented throughout the week.

Fox Fisher, film maker, trans campaigner and artist, was awarded a Doctor of Arts in recognition of major contributions to raising the profile, both nationally and internationally, of issues affecting trans-people and the promotion of arts and media. Fox, who graduated with an MA in Sequential Design and Illustration from the University of Brighton in 2015, regularly appears on TV and facilitates interactions with mainstream media on the representation of trans people. Fox was named one of the top 10 outstanding contributors to LGBT+ life at this year’s British LGBT Awards.

Fox said: “While a lot has happened for trans people in the past years I feel that we are still struggling with the same issues. Trans people’s identities aren’t respected as much as they should be and we constantly have to prove, explain and justify our experience.

Bert Williams

Bert Williams

“I hope that in the future trans people will be respected and recognised for who they are. I hope that non binary people will receive legal and social recognition – that’s the X on the passport – and the right to marry as well.

“I want us all to be celebrated for being who we are and I want there to be a day when no one has to justify their experience or debate it with anyone because identities are not up for debate and never should be.”

Bert Williams MBE received a Doctor of Letters for his contribution to the promotion of race equality in the local area.

Bert is the driving force behind Brighton and Hove Black History, launched in Brighton in 2002.

His first trip to the city was in 1960 when he visited his two sisters who had come over from Jamaica to work at Brighton General Hospital. He returned to the city in 1967 after serving in the RAF and has been a resident ever since. He worked for the NHS for the next 26 years until retiring in 1992 and went on to chair a local group – Mosaic – for black and mixed-race families. He also organised the Chattri Memorial service on the Sussex Downs, which commemorates Indian soldiers who fought during the First World War.

He said: “I have had the opportunity to research black history and promote race equality throughout Brighton and Hove – it is in this area of my work in the community that has resulted in not only the recognition I am receiving today but also in receipt of my MBE from the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace in 2011.”

The two awards, he said, led him to the message he wanted to leave to graduates receiving their degrees at the Brighton Centre: “It came to me as I was working with the outstanding team of volunteers alongside me. I was supported by humble, polite, honest and kind people – not working for the glory of status or financial rewards but all working to inform and educate those around them

“Success in this context was not measured by cars, houses or social status but by the difference they make in people’s lives.

“If you are working and striving towards a goal, only focusing on the immediate rewards, financial or otherwise, it will fog your judgement and impair your decision-making.

“If you seek to make a difference, improve your community and create a better world for the generation behind you, your success will be rewarded beyond anything that you have ever imagined.”

On Thursday, Alan Rusbridger, former editor of The Guardian for 20 years, will be presented with a Doctor of Letters for his major contribution to journalism.

And Miranda Brawn is to be awarded a Doctor of Letters for her contribution to the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion in all sectors, in particular in the legal profession.

Miranda is a campaigner for an equal and diverse workforce and promotes all forms of diversity, including race, gender, disability and LGBT. She has been named by the Financial Times as one of the most influential global BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) business executives helping to make the world a more equal and diverse place.