Dec 01 2022

Arden recognises honorary graduates

As part of its November graduation celebrations this week, Arden University is delighted to announce two new honorary graduates. 

Polar Explorer Mark Wood has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Arden, as has Alethea Balbuena, who currently sits as Deputy CEO at Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.  

Having completed over 30 major expeditions around the world, including reaching the magnetic, geomagnetic, and geographic North Poles, Wood is an established speaker, author, and polar explorer. Mark now uses his experience of difficult challenges during his expeditions to educate and motivate others, tapping into the similarities between organisations today and the dangerous and hostile conditions faced by explorers.

Wood’s Honorary Doctorate from Arden University has been awarded in recognition of his educational work around the world, where he dedicates his time to building sustainable educational and leadership projects. He has used his expeditions to create extreme global classrooms, inspiring young people in the process. 

'I’m honoured to have received this incredible piece of recognition from Arden University,' said Wood.

'Through my travels, I have been fortunate enough to see the power of education around the globe and witness the way in which it can change lives and help people to reach their true potential.'

'This belief in the power of education is something I know Arden shares. I am proud to have received such a prestigious award from a university which believes that it should be used as a means of driving change in communities globally, just as I do.'

Mark Wood
Alethea Balbuena

With over 22 years of experience in the mental health and psychology sector, Coventry-based Balbuena, meanwhile, was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate for her dedication to mental health charity Mind and her ongoing volunteer work.

Alethea currently sits as Deputy CEO at Coventry and Warwickshire Mind, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience gained working throughout her career right through from the grassroots to the Senior Leadership Team.

Alethea’s passion for helping others began when starting her career as a Support Worker within adult mental health services, before moving on to work in housing. This then led to her incredibly important work within the Children and Young People’s Service. Building on the great work that had already been started, she helped to shape services from around 200 young people attending each year to over 12,000 who walk through the doors of the service today.

‘I’m thrilled to have been awarded this honorary doctorate – it’s an amazing piece of recognition for all the work that I have put in throughout my career.’ Balbuena said.

‘During this time, I have had the opportunity to work with so many other hard-working people across our sector who are making an amazing impact on their local communities, and any of them could quite easily have been up there collecting an award today too.’

Both recipients were presented with their awards at our graduation ceremonies this week by Carl Lygo, Arden University’s CEO and Vice Chancellor. 

‘I am thrilled to award Honorary Doctorates to both Mark and Alethea,’ said Lygo.

‘Mark has an endless list of achievements that are impressive and admirable. He has not only showcased the sense of accomplishment and strength that coincides with mastering true resilience and overcoming physical and mentally challenging situations, but he has also gone on to teach the next generation his lessons along the way. Sticking to true Arden values, he has provided an immeasurable service to all generations by ensuring communities across the globe learn more about the world around them and the power of their own, personal capabilities.'

‘Meanwhile, it is people like Alethea that have not just shown up for those struggling time and time again but have also raised awareness of the ongoing societal issues in order to help tackle them in the long run. She has had an incredible impact on our society, and I’m sure this is being felt by every single person she has provided support to. We have all had a tumultuous few years and looking for the good among the bad can sometimes feel like a challenging task.’