University of Leicester bestows honour on English student-turned-inspiring-author

A University of Leicester graduate who has enjoyed a successful career as an author, broadcaster and educator has been awarded an honorary degree by his alma mater. 

After graduating from his English course in 2003, Jeffrey Boakye has seen his career take an upward trajectory. Following a stint teaching English to secondary school pupils and then establishing an English department at a new school, Jeffrey turned his attention to writing.

The author, who has a particular interest in issues surrounding race, masculinity, education and popular culture, started writing his first book, Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millennials and the Meaning of Grime, in 2015 when cradling his first-born son in the early hours. 

Published in 2017, Hold Tight is recognised as one of the first seminal books on grime music. Following his first published work, Jeffrey has gone on to release five more books, including Black Listed: Black British Culture Explored (2019); What is Masculinity? Why Does it Matter? And Other Big Questions, a book for children on masculinity (2019, long-listed for the Information Book Awards); Musical Truth: A Musical History of Modern Black Britain in 28 Songs (2021, longlisted for the Yoto Carnegie Medal 2022 and shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize Children's & YA 2022) and I Heard What You Said (June 2022). Jeffrey has a further two books scheduled for release in 2023 including Musical World, and a middle grade series starting with Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer (2023). 

Despite a successful career as an author, Jeffrey continues to be an educator, providing training and talks to schools, educational organisations and corporates around the topics of race, masculinity and education. He is currently a Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Manchester’s Institute for Education. 

He is also a broadcaster, co-presenting BBC Radio 4’s award winning Add to Playlist show with Cerys Matthews, which explores the rich web of connections in music. 

Speaking about his Doctor of Letters award, which he received on Friday 20 January at the University’s graduation ceremony at De Montfort Hall, Jeffrey said: “To say that this is an honour is a huge understatement. I feel incredibly proud to have studied at the University of Leicester and so much of my work since then has been built on foundations that began on the English degree course. A sincere thank you, from me, to everyone who has made this possible.”