Sunderland University Chancellor David Puttnam has presented a degree to the adopted daughter he brought to the UK from an Indian village hit by leprosy.
Lord Puttnam and his wife adopted Rina in 1994
Film maker Lord Puttnam will hand out degrees to 3,000 graduates this week.
On Monday, his pharmacy graduate daughter Rina, 26, became one of the first to formally shake his hand.
Rina was born in India and came to live with Lord Puttnam and his wife Patsy in 1994. She now hopes to gain further qualifications in medicine.
Lord Puttnam said at the ceremony in Sunderland's Stadium of Light football ground: "We could not be more proud of Rina - it's a wonderful achievement.
"She has the extraordinary combination of vision and determination."
Lady Puttnam first met Rina, one of five daughters, when she visited the Little Flower Leprosy Association in 1994, which had been established 10 years earlier by Catholic priest Brother Christdas.
Brother Christdas, or Baba, had worked with Mother Teresa and moved to Bihar, the poorest region in India, to support leprosy patients.
Rina's natural father had been one of his earliest patients.
Lady Puttnam said: "Baba knew, from working with Mother Teresa, how vital it was that women began to receive a proper education and he set about doing exactly that.
"Rina's parents were very courageous - they allowed her to go to the local college.
"It was breaking with tradition and many in the village would no longer talk to them or her."
At 14, Rina won a scholarship to attend Gordonstoun School in Scotland and came to live in the UK with her adoptive parents.
Rina, who works at South Tyneside District Hospital, said: " As a pharmacist I would not be that much use in India so I hope to continue in medicine so that I can go back to India or Africa and help there."