Grime star Stormzy was honoured with the 'Person of the Year' award at the Oxford African and Caribbean Society's Annual Access Conference.
Stormzy has been a high-profile supporter of young black people in higher education, giving his backing to the recent #BlackExcellence campaign.
He was recognised yesterday by the Oxford African and Caribbean Society (ACS) for his 'amazing contributions to our society and the wider black community'.
Stormzy, who performed at Glastonbury last month and was nominated for a 2017 Brit Award, told students at the conference in London: 'I think it's easy for the public to look at footballers, rappers and entertainers and see us as the epitome of black excellence, but I feel that it's actually you guys. At the end of uni, you lot are becoming the doctors and lawyers, the medical scientists.'
The Annual Access Conference is for high-performing Year 12 state school students with African and Caribbean heritage, and is organised by the ACS in partnership with Oxford University's Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach office.
The conference aims to support African and Caribbean students in making competitive applications to Oxford, as well as providing a platform for pupils to meet current Oxford students and to assist teachers in providing guidance to young people as they consider their higher education options.
Dr Samina Khan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at Oxford University, said: 'Stormzy's words at the conference were an inspiration – as are Oxford's current black undergraduate students. The young people at the conference took away guidance that I hope will help them become part of the next generation of undergraduate students at Oxford.'
Justice Kanu, chair of the Oxford ACS executive board and a former Economics and Management student at Oxford, said: 'We designed the Annual Access Conference (AAC) to addresses the under-representation of black students at Oxford and other higher education institutions. During the conference, we actively break down a lot of myths associated with studying at Oxford, while also providing pragmatic advice on how students can build competitive applications to Oxford and leverage their unique cultural experiences as assets that enhance their intellectual capital.
'This year's conference saw us engage with over 200 black students across London's state schools. The AAC is all about empowering young students of African and Caribbean heritage to make informed choices about their education and equipping them with the tools that will allow them to be proactive in their pursuit of excellence, in academia and beyond. Each year we've had over 100 students attend the AAC, and each year we've seen these same students' perspectives of Oxford transform during the course of the event.
'Stormzy's appearance was definitely one of the highlights of the conference. We chose Stormzy because his willingness to embrace his artistic curiosity and push beyond the boundaries often placed on black grime artists has strong parallels with the experience faced by black students within academia. While the students went in with excitement and awe, they took away a profound feeling of self-worth and an understanding that they do not have to choose between being faithful to their roots and embracing their capacity for artistic and intellectual diversity, regardless of whether they decide to become MOBO award-winning artists or global thought leaders.'
Earlier this year, Stormzy donated £9,000 to a crowdfunding campaign set up by Oxford psychology student Fiona Asiedu to help her achieve her goal of studying for a master's at Harvard University in the US.