Dame Alwen Williams' career in the NHS has spanned more than 40 years. As Group Chief Executive of Barts Health NHS Trust, the largest in London, Dame Alwen has led and transformed the trust, taking it from special measures to one of the country's most respected NHS organisations.
Looking back at the pandemic, Dame Alwen said, "There was a real spirit of having to adapt in real time, every day. It's just remarkable what people and teams working together did. There's a real sense of vocation serving the people of east London and doing a job that is worthwhile.
"I have a deep affinity with east London, having lived in the area for three decades and having given birth to my two children here. Although I was brought up in the West Midlands I am now an east Londoner through and through. It has been a great privilege to have lived and worked in this vibrant, inclusive and diverse community."
The graduates too reflected on their challenging journey through the pandemic.
Harriet Boamah, who was receiving her MA in Youth and Community Work, said, "After the pandemic, 2022 was the year that it seemed that life was getting back to normal, but not quite for us - we remained focused. Well, today it was worth it."
Omolara Daniel, awarded a Masters in Human Rights Advocacy, said, "We should be very, very proud of ourselves for accomplishing our goals despite all the challenges we faced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"UEL is a great institution. There is always the right support in place for everyone to excel whatever their capability or challenges."
Iyngkaran Mahalingam, a Master in Science specialising in pharmaceutical science, said, "Some of us have travelled across the globe to come here with many hopes and dreams. Our time at UEL has definitely helped us to move towards our life goals."