By Michael_Yong  

A teenager from Bristol is set to become one of the youngest doctorate holders in the city – before she has gone to university.

Fahma Mohamed will be awarded the Doctor of Laws by Bristol University – an honorary degree acknowledging her campaigning work to end female genital mutilation (FGM).


The former City Academy pupil will be starting university at Kings College London this September, taking on an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science.

But before she even starts her new adventure, the 19-year-old will be given the doctorate this Friday at Bristol University’s graduation ceremony.

Fahma rose to fame after she led a campaign to end FGM – with charity Integrate Bristol – nearly five years ago.

Then just 14 years old, Fahma bravely spoke out about the horrific acts of FGM in Britain and violence against girls.

Two years ago, she fronted a national campaign to stop the abuse, with United Nations’ secretary general Ban Ki-Moon meeting her and directly praising her work.

Fahma Mohamed will be one of the youngest doctorate holders
Fahma Mohamed will be one of the youngest doctorate holders

She also launched a petition and wrote a letter to then Education Secretary Michael Gove, asking them to protect every girl from FGM.

The campaign culminated in compulsory training for public sector workers to help teachers, doctors and social workers identify and assist girls at risk.

You would think Fahma would be outspoken and loud, but she admitted she was once “shy” and “reserved”.

The former Weston College student, who is finishing her gap year before university, told the Bristol Post she was honored to receive the doctorate.

“I couldn’t believe it when the university told me,” she said.

“I had just started school at City Academy where Lisa Zimmerman (from Integrate Bristol) was my English teacher at that time.

“We kept hearing about the charity and the work that was done there, but I had no idea what FGM was. I was even more shocked it was practiced in Bristol – in Britain.

“It was such a taboo subject that no one talked about it.

“I knew then I wanted to get involved with the charity. I was quite shy and reserved at first, but they helped me grow into it.

“I kept thinking about how helpless the girls [victims] were feeling and that was what motivated me to keep going.”

She is now looking forward to the ceremony this Friday, which will be held at the Wills Memorial Building.

“I’m quite nervous, but it’ll be nice to have my family there with my friends,” Fahma said.

“It can be quite overwhelming, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Full list of honorary degrees to be awarded by Bristol University this year:

Fahma Mohamed, Doctor of Laws

Activist who, aged 14, led the campaign to end female genital mutilation and other forms of violence against women and girls.

Professor Lesley Yellowlees CBE, Doctor of Science

Distinguished inorganic chemist; currently Vice-Principle and Head of the College or Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.

Dr Lew Watts, Doctor of Science

President of Lew Watts & Associates LLC, with over 35 years’ experience in the energy industry; University of Bristol graduate.

Dr Jennifer Dixon CBE, Doctor of Science

Chief Executive of the Health Foundation; University of Bristol graduate.

Dr Gerald Avison, Doctor of Engineering

Founder of TTP Group, an award-winning technology and product development company; University of Bristol graduate.

Daniel Schaffer, Doctor of Laws

Solicitor and partner at Herbert Smith Freehills; Chair of the University’s Law School Advisory Board; University of Bristol graduate.

Bill Ray, Doctor of Laws

Former Chair of the University of Bristol Convocation and Alumni Association and member of the Board of Trustees; University of Bristol graduate.

Anne Burrell, Doctor of Laws

Former principle of Merchants’ Academy; has worked with the Department of Education to transform hundreds of under-performing schools.

Dr Timothy Chambers OBE, Doctor of Science

Retired NHS physician and nephrologist at Bristol Children’s Hospital; formerly High Sheriff of Bristol.

David Nicholls, Doctor of Letters

One of the country’s leading novelists and screenwriters; author of One Day, Starter for Ten and Us; University of Bristol graduate.

Dr Wendy Ewart MBE, Doctor of Science

Retired Deputy CEO and Director of Strategy for the Medical Research Council; University of Bristol graduate.

The Baroness Primarolo DBE, Doctor of Laws

Member of the House of Lords and former MP for Bristol South; University of Bristol graduate.

Professor Timothy Palmer CBE, Doctor of Science

Professor at the University of Oxford, specialising in weather prediction and climate modelling; University of Bristol graduate.

Dr Martin Kiszko, Doctor of Letters

Composer, writer and poet; he has written eight screenplays, directed for ITV and composed many well-known BBC TV theme tunes; University of Bristol graduate.

Ben Kane, Doctor of Letters

Best-selling author of historical fiction, known for the Forgotten Legion Spartacus and Hannibal book series set in the ancient world.

Jane Camblin, Doctor of Laws

Head of the United Nations International School in New York; University of Bristol graduate.

Other awards

Professor Sir Angus Deaton will receive an honorary fellowship on Wednesday, 13 July, at a specia lpublic talk he’s giving. The British-American economist was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences last year for his analysis of consumption, poverty and welfare.

Professor Glyn Humphreys will be conferred a posthumous honorary degree. He had already accepted an invitation to receive a Doctor of Science award in recognition of his contribution to psychology but died suddenly in January this year. Professor Humphreys obtained a BSc and a PhD from the University of Bristol in 1976 and 1980.

Source: Bristol Post


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