Noreen M Carrocci and Rachel Joy Shenton become Newman Honorary Graduates

24/10/2018 by Sinead Staunton

Tuesday 23rd October saw Newman University graduates celebrate their success at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

Among those celebrating were this year’s Honorary Graduates; each year Newman University awards an Honorary Degree to those it feels have played a crucial part in society and truly made a difference.

Honorary graduates from 2017 included Sian Massey-Ellis MBE and Marcia Shakespeare MBE with previous recipients including footballer Dion Dublin, Actor Mark Williams and golfer Alison Nicholas.

The 2018 Honorary Graduates were able to receive their degrees from the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Scott Davidson alongside students of Newman University.

Noreen Carroci

Dr Noreen M Carrocci was the first Honorary Graduate to be recognised; Dr Carrocci is the President of Newman University, Wichita in America. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication and Psychology from Miami University in Ohio in 1975. Dr Carrocci then went on to complete her Masters degree and then her Doctorate in Speech Communication and Human Relations in 1979 from the University of Kansas. After gaining her PhD, Dr Carrocci served nine years as the Provost and Vice-President of Spring Hill College, Alabama before gaining the role of President of Newman University, Wichita; a sister university of Newman University, Birmingham.

Dr Carrocci is involved with many civic organizations and serves in numerous leadership roles for local and national organizations, including the Board of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. During her time as President, Dr Carrocci led a capital campaign to build a new 51,400 square foot state-of-the-art Science Centre, which opened in 2017, giving students access to multiple high-tech training and research opportunities.  Newman University, Wichita is known to be the top healthcare education institution in the region.

Newman University, Birmingham is awarding Dr Carrocci with a Doctor of Education Honorary Degree for her outstanding contribution as an academic leader, her engagement with many charitable works, and to celebrate the connection between the two universities as Newman University, Birmingham celebrates its 50th anniversary and Newman University, Wichita its 85th.

Rachel Joy Shenton

The second Honorary Graduate present at the ceremony was Rachel Joy Shenton, a British Actress and Writer from North Staffordshire. Rachel began her career at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where her controversial play received critical acclaim.

The 2018 Oscar winning short film The Silent Child was Rachel’s screenplay debut. Her passion to tell this story urged her to put pen to paper.  She co-starred in the film as a social worker who helps a young deaf girl learn how to communicate through sign language.

At twelve years old Rachel’s father lost his hearing suddenly through an unrelated health issue and lived the last two years of his life profoundly deaf. This inspired Rachel to learn sign language and her passion for change in the deaf community grew. As a keen advocate for deaf awareness, between acting roles Rachel campaigns for equal opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people. She believes passionately the silent disability goes unnoticed by many and misunderstood by many more. As a proud ambassador of the National Deaf Children’s Society and local charity DeafLinks, she has been raising awareness for well over a decade.

Rachel Shenton has appeared on our screens for years with regular roles in shows such as Genie in the House, Waterloo Road and Hollyoaks, which won her a National Television nomination for best dramatic performance.  In 2014 Rachel made her American TV debut on ABC Family drama, Switched at Birth, portraying the role of Lily Summers, and she is currently filming BBC2 hit comedy series White Gold.

Rachel received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from Newman University for her outstanding contribution as an actress and screenwriter and for her dedicated charity work.