• The High Wycombe-born star was given the award in recognition of her anti-racism and racial equality work.
• She said while she was "blessed" to have had a successful music career it was "so rewarding" to have her campaigning recognised.
Little Mix singer and solo artist Leigh-Anne Pinnock has been awarded an honorary doctorate in the arts by Buckinghamshire New University.
The High Wycombe-born star was given the award in recognition of her anti-racism and racial equality work.
She said while she was "blessed" to have had a successful music career it was "so rewarding" to have her campaigning recognised.
"I am extremely proud to be here today," she said.
The 31-year-old singer shot to fame as part of Little Mix when they won the eighth series of X Factor in 2011.
They became one of the world's best-selling girl groups, with hit singles such as Shout Out to My Ex and Woman Like Me.
In 2021, the group announced it would be "taking a little break" but was "not splitting up".
Pinnock is currently working on solo projects, recently releasing her first solo single, Don't Say Love.
The doctorate marks her work as co-founder of The Black Fund charity, which supports organisations that are "shaping, changing, and supporting the lives of the black community in the UK".
The star spoke about her own experience of racism, both growing up and as a the only black member of the band, in her 2021 TV documentary Leigh Anne: Race, Pop & Power.
On Wednesday she joined hundreds of graduating students to collect her award in the presence of her mentor and the university's chancellor, TV presenter Jay Blades.
"It's such a privilege to be recognised by such a credible, creative, and supportive university so I am extremely happy and proud to be here today," she said.
She added she thought her story "mirrors many of the student's experiences".
"It's a story of a woman who had a passion, who had a goal that she thought might just be achievable," she said.
"But it's also a story of a woman who, thanks to the support of her mentors and believers... [and] along with a lot of hard work and dedication, eventually got where she wanted to be.
"And while I am blessed to have had a successful recording career, it is so rewarding that it's my work as a campaigner for racial equality and anti-racism that is being recognised today.
"Alongside my music, this is a role that becomes more important to me every single day."
She told students that, whatever their goals were, "the most important thing you can do is believe in yourself and surround yourself with others who believe in you too".
Blades, who has known the singer for almost 20 years, said she "uses her platform for the good of society and has never forgotten her roots".
Vice chancellor Prof Nick Braisby said the doctorate celebrated her "remarkable achievements and her embodiment of the values of equality, community, and compassion, values that reflect what we represent".
"She reminds us that our voices matter and that we have the power to create positive change in our communities," he said.