AN AWARD-winning crime writer and top rugby player were among those picking up awards from Sunderland University.
Author Val McDermid and England women’s rugby captain Katy McLean were both presented with their degrees at the Stadium of Light.
Val, whose books have sold 10million copies worldwide, was given an honorary doctorate of education in recognition of her achievements as an author.
Katy, 25, who has been named the university’s Student of the Year, graduated for the second time, gaining her postgraduate certificate in the Graduate Teaching Programme (GTP) and beginning a career as a primary school teacher.
The top sportswoman, who originally graduated from Sunderland in 2007 with a sports studies degree, said: “The university was great when I studied for my degree and that was why I applied to do my GTP there.
“I have been juggling playing for England, teaching full-time and studying, but the uni was great helping me manage workloads and deadlines.”
Katy, who now works as a teacher at Bexhill Academy in Sunderland, was named Alumnus of the Year for her dedication throughout her studies and time as a professional athlete.
During the last few years, Katy has tirelessly helped promote the University of Sunderland and women’s rugby.
Val McDermid, best known for her books which were turned into the popular ITV series Wire in the Blood starring Robson Green, was thrilled with her honorary degree.
The former journalist, who was the first student from a Scottish state school to study at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, said: “I am more proud than I can say to receive this honour. My three years at university changed my life and gave me prospects beyond anything I could have imagined.
“Places like the University of Sunderland, where you are valued for the quality of your mind rather than your social standing, are amazing. They give us the chance to dream.”
Professor Peter Fidler, University of Sunderland vice-chancellor, said: “We were delighted to pay tribute to a woman who has excelled in every aspect of her professional life and today is one of the true icons of 21st-century fiction. Val is an inspiration to all of our students.”