University of East London: Sports journalist awarded honorary doctorate

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Award-winning journalist Roshane Thomas has been awarded an honorary doctorate of journalism by the University of East London (UEL).

The 28-year-old received the honour from University provost Professor Hassan Abdalla at the graduation ceremony of the School of Arts and Creative Industries (ACI) on Thursday, 15 September.

The conferment of an honorary doctorate upon Roshane was in recognition of his contribution to journalism, his inspirational drive, and his encouragement and support of aspiring and up-and-coming journalists.

Over the past few years, many of the University’s own journalism students have benefitted from his career advice, experience and industry connections. His expertise has also been called upon by the media department to create new courses at postgraduate level: MA Data Journalism and MA Global Football Journalism.

Accepting the honour at the Royal Docks-based event, Roshane said he was proud and honoured and hoped it would be an inspiration to those about to embark on their own professional journeys.

For the past three years, Roshane has been the West Ham Football Club correspondent for The Athletic, one of the UK’s leading subscription-based sports websites. He has become one of the most reliable journalists for all West Ham related news and a fan-favourite who has been the first to break many club stories.

His growing reputation in the field of sports journalism has seen him recently appear on the Football Black List’s “Ones To Watch” which highlights talented, young people under the age of 30 from an African or Caribbean background who are making an impact within the football industry in the UK.

In his speech to graduands, Roshane spoke about his own journey and described a time early on in his career when he had a crisis of confidence and was on the verge of quitting journalism. Self-belief – and a push from a mentor – pulled him through.

He said, “I was fed up with journalism and was going to join the police force. Then I got a random phone call from one of my mentors who asked me what I was up to. I told him that I was looking to change my career. He wasn’t impressed. He reminded me that I’d trained to be a journalist and that I was good … and then he told me about The Athletic where I’m now doing my dream job.

“My advice to you all whether you’re going into a career in dance, fashion, music is – don’t doubt yourself. Go out of your comfort zone, network. Be persistent. Sometimes people won’t get back to you and it can be frustrating but if you remain persistent it will do wonders for your career. Find the best people in your field and try to reach out to them for advice. And always keep learning.

“But, ultimately, always believe and know that you are good enough and that you can find that dream job and then, hopefully, inspire the next generation in whatever field you go into.”

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