The world famous civil rights leader, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, sent a personal message of congratulation to the University’s scholarship students.

Rev Jackson told the assembled students and guests at an awards ceremony that he was honoured to be involved in the occasion. The honorary fellow of the University was speaking after a scholarship was set up in his name following a visit to Edge Hill last year.

He said: “As I speak to youth across the country, I seek to inspire them with this simple message: ‘If your mind can conceive it, and your heart can believe it, we can achieve it’. In this spirit, I want to congratulate you for incorporating this philosophy into your academic and community endeavors, and serving as an example for others to follow. You represent the hopes and dreams of your generation, and are being recognised for your leadership, community service and academic achievement.

“Together we can create a new society based on the time-honored principles of peace, human rights and social justice.

“Congratulations! And always remember: ‘Your mind is a pearl. You can achieve anything in the world’.”

One of the first recipients of the Reverend Jesse Jackson Scholarship is Benjamin Smith, a BA (Hons) English Language student, praised for his work in equality and diversity, particularly with Edge Hill University Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Society.

A new scholarship has also been created this year by the University Chancellor, Professor Tanya Byron. It recognises students who have helped raise the profile of Edge Hill in a positive way through their exceptional contribution to the University. One of the first recipients was Yvonne McCormick, a BSc (Hons) Psychology student, a mother-of-five who juggles her degree and family, as well as volunteering and mentoring other students.

Professor Byron presented all of the scholarship students with their awards at the ceremony.

Excellence Scholarships form part of Edge Hill University’s national award-winning financial support package, giving students up to £2,000 worth of financial help over the duration of their course.

Applications for scholarships are made by those who have excelled in one of four scholarship categories: sport, performing arts, volunteering and creative arts. Selection was made by panels, made up of more than 20 members of staff, who considered in excess of 200 applications. This year more than 240 students have benefited from the scholarships, totalling over £215,000 of financial assistance in the scheme’s four years of operation.

Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Cater, said: “Every year Edge Hill University is proud to recruit and educate a large number of students who make an outstanding contribution to excellence in their chosen field and to the communities of which they are part. We are delighted to be able to acknowledge and reward that excellence.”