Chancellor issues call for Leicester grads to change the world for the better

The Chancellor of the University of Leicester has issued a rallying cry to the new crop of graduates to think big, fight injustice and change the world for the better.

Space scientist and broadcaster, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, gave the inspirational speech after she was officially installed as the new Chancellor, at a graduation ceremony on Wednesday 19 July.

The appointment is the latest chapter in Maggie’s inspiring rise from an unsettled early life, which saw her diagnosed with dyslexia and attend 13 different schools, to a nationally recognised science communicator.

Welcoming our new Chancellor Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock MBE

Maggie told the audience of fresh graduates gathered in De Montfort Hall: “Your steps across this stage are your first into a new realm of what might be. I urge you to dream big – to desire to aspire. Make this your giant leap.

“Do not accept the world as it is – go out there and change it for the better. Just 100 miles up, we enter space and we see our planet for what it is. What we have done to it and what we need to do. That responsibility rests with you and those that follow you. Our future depends upon it.”

She added: “Fight injustice, inequality and persecution. These are the enemies of progress. Success does not depend upon trampling upon the rights of others but comes from the uplifting of the whole. Make diversity and inclusion your priorities.”

Speaking later in the evening, at a dinner to mark her installation, Maggie emphasised the need for education to be ‘borderless’.

She said: “I am the child of immigrant parents and I am proud that our Vice-Chancellor is also of international origin. In a world that is increasingly polarised, education must remain borderless, it must bring people together and it should create hope for the future.”

Maggie added: “I know the enormous power of education first-hand. Having dyslexia, I was placed in a class for those with additional needs. I also went to 13 different schools because my parents split up when I was young.

“It was because of education and the inspiration from lots of amazing teachers that I was able to get my GCSEs and A-levels and then go on to get my degree and PhD later on.

“I have made it my mission to inspire the next generation of scientists and educators. By becoming Chancellor of the University of Leicester, I can share the power of education and encourage people to come to the University too.”

President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, Professor Nishan Canagarajah, said: “Maggie is an inspirational role model for our students, graduates, and colleagues. She embodies the values of the University – inclusive, inspiring, impactful – in her commitment to empower others through education, her unequivocal focus on equality and inclusion, and her passion for making this world a better place. It is the very reason this University was founded over 100 years ago and Maggie continues that legacy as a true Citizen of Change.”