OUTLANDER star Sam Heughan has received an honorary doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and encouraged aspiring actors to 'dream big'.
Sam, who is an RCS alumnus, joined fellow graduates at the summer ceremony for the class of 2022.
Since graduating from the prestigious arts university in 2003 with a BA in Acting, Sam has since had an impressive career on the screen as well as being an author, philanthropist and whisky entrepreneur.
He spoke of his delight at receiving a doctorate from his alma mater.
He said: “I am honoured to share in this special day and would like to thank the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland for bestowing on me this wonderful honour.”
In 2021, Sam strengthened his ties to the Conservatoire when he announced a new ten-year scholarship which will support the next generation of students.
He is personally funding three annual scholarships for undergraduate students in the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film.
The Men in Kilts star also created Write Start: The Sam Heughan Creative Commission, an annual award which encourages students to create new work.
Sam addressed the 300-strong Class of 2022: “You have had many wonderful new, first experiences here, and will have many to come.
"This place has given you the greatest start and I’m incredibly excited for you.
“It is here, where my first dream became a reality.
"It’s here, where I have been shooting a major US TV show, and have been able to rely on the experience and lessons I learnt in this building.
“I never would have imagined back then, walking down Great Western Road on my way to movement class (where we were working on being a tree) or daydreamed that it was possible to make my own work."
He added: "I never imagined I’d write my first book or have a whisky business or set up a scholarship for fellow students.
“I’m willing you on, I want you all to succeed and I know you will. Dream big and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I cannot wait to see what you all achieve.”
Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of RCS, called Sam a "wonderful ambassador" for the arts and for Scotland.
He added: "He’s an artist of international acclaim with an entrepreneurial spirit, who passionately believes in giving back and helping others to fulfil their potential.
“Through his scholarship programme at RCS, he is helping to make the arts accessible for all and supporting the next generation as they follow their dreams.”
Honorary doctorates were also presented to Sex Education star and the new Doctor Who, actor and fellow RCS graduate Ncuti Gatwa.
In an emotional speech, Ncuti called the graduates "artistic superheroes" and thanked RCS for allowing him to be involved in such a special day.
He said: "It is such an honour to be back here to receive this doctorate and to be with you all on your very special day.
“This speech actually was very difficult to write.
"Because when you get asked to do things like this, the presumption is that you are somebody who has achieved something in life and are in complete control and have total awareness of all the components that have led you to that point."
He added: “I am humbly inspired and in awe of the strength, talent, perseverance, and dedication to your craft that each of you clearly possess.
"These qualities will serve you so well in life. What today signifies is that you are artists. Period.”
Ncuti joined Sam and composer Errollyn Wallen CBE in receiving doctorates.
Professor Sharkey said: “Ncuti Gatwa has captivated audiences worldwide in Sex Education and we’re so proud to see him step into the shoes of one of television’s most iconic characters in Doctor Who.
“Ncuti is an inspiration. He’s an incredibly gifted actor with fresh and fearless energy, which makes him a joy to watch.
"He also uses his voice as an advocate for charity, raising awareness for youth homelessness. Together, it’s a powerful combination.”