Singer and songwriter Emeli Sandé MBE has been announced as the new University of Sunderland chancellor - and will present her parents with belated awards in an emotional twist of fate.
The Sunderland-born multi-platinum-selling artist arrived into the world on the day her mum and dad Diane and Joel were due to graduate themselves, meaning they missed the ceremony.
The couple studied together at Sunderland in the 1980s and Emeli was born in the city in 1987.
Now, after taking over from Steve Cram MBE who is stepping down from the role after 11 years, one of Emeli's first acts was chancellor will be to belatedly present her parents with their academic awards.
The 32-year-old singer will be installed as chancellor in a ceremony to be held during the University’s summer academic awards on July 10 2019, and will confirm her parents' awards at the same event.
She said: "Education and music are both central to who I am and I believe that both have the power to change lives for the better. So I am delighted that I can combine my passions in this new role.
“Sunderland was home to my parents while they were studying. I’ve always felt a strong connection to the city so it is a great personal honour for me to accept the role of Chancellor of the University.
“I plan to use my time as Chancellor to help others see their worth, realise their potential and break down barriers, whether real or imagined.”
The university’s vice-chancellor, Sir David Bell KCB, said: “Emeli breaks the mould when it comes to university chancellors. She represents a different generation and is someone of immense standing in her chosen profession.
"We are thrilled that Emeli has agreed to become the Chancellor of the University of Sunderland as her values chime with our own. She is a committed advocate for social justice, gender equality and access to education. She will be an outstanding role model for our students, graduates and staff.”
John Mowbray OBE, chairman of the University’s Board of Governors, said Emeli’s passions for music and education have always run side by side.
As she pursued her studies at the University of Glasgow, from where she graduated with a degree in neuroscience, her writing and performance skills were honed with gigs across the city.
“The Board of Governors is delighted and excited to endorse the appointment of Emeli Sandé as our new Chancellor. It is a reflection of the growing confidence, ambition and ingenuity of this University," said Mr Mowbray.
“We have been hugely fortunate to have had two outstanding Chancellors in Lord David Puttnam and Steve Cram CBE. Both were unstinting in their support to the University of Sunderland as it developed into the institution it is today."