Dej Mahoney was the guest speaker at Epsom College’s 2016 Prize-Giving Day.
Illustrious alumni who have also been guest speakers in recent years have included writer-historian and TV presenter Susannah Lipscombe, former Head of MI6 Sir John Scarlett and BBC broadcaster Jeremy Vine.
“Dej Mahoney, who attended the College from 1977 to 1982 and was the first Head of School of African heritage. He went on to study law at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and qualified at the Bar as a Harmsworth Award winner.
Dej subsequently followed his more creative and commercial instincts into the music industry, where he pursued a 13 year career at Sony Music as Vice President of Business Affairs and New Media Development.
Dej regaled the guests with stories about his family background and his time at Epsom College, noting that he was the last son of a Gambian physician, who was supposed to follow in his father’s footsteps. But as languages came so much more easily to him than the sciences, he chose to study law as a safer career option than modern languages.
Throughout his witty and insightful address, his message was clear: ‘A good education really is one of the most precious and bullet-proof gifts you can be given and there aren’t many things that nobody can take away from you.
‘I come from a family that has always valued education and religion over financial success and good times so I gritted my teeth, stuck with my lot and learned, over many years, to appreciate and embrace the value of education.
‘Education is not – as is sometimes felt at school – about boring lessons and last-minute cramming for exams. It is about laying solid foundations on which to build a life worth living,’ he said.
Dej then presented the prizes to this year’s recipients after which the guests enjoyed canapés and sparkling wine on the College lawns.”