City, University of London student speaker, Varda Lassman, reflects on obtaining a master’s degree whilst balancing a full-time job and an expanding family, as she graduates with Distinction
MSc in Health Management student, Varda Lassman, graduated with Distinction this week at a ceremony held specifically for those who were unable to graduate in person last year due to the national lockdown.
Varda became a registered nurse in 1998, working in a number of areas of expertise, including four years in intensive care, before transitioning to work in community settings, and has since held management roles within the NHS for several years.
She began her master’s study in September 2016, ten years after she had completed her BSc in Nursing at Middlesex University, and 18 years after she had qualified as a nurse , completing her Nursing Diploma at King’s College London.
Graduating as student speaker for the ceremony, Varda stressed the importance of measuring ourselves not so much on the plans we make, but how we react when all our plans go wrong.
Speaking in front of her supervisors, lecturers, fellow graduates, parents, husband Cerdic and two eldest children – Mimi and Ilanashe - she said in part:
“…life has a way of throwing things into your path, just to see how you cope and what you do. So, in year one of my two-year part-time master’s course my hubby and I made the ever so wise decision that we would try and get pregnant with our third child. That way I could finish my first year whilst pregnant and working full time and then do my second whilst on maternity leave and all would be well…………right? Hmm – well – life in its usual fabulous way had other plans and I found out I was pregnant with twins taking us up to four children! That was a curve ball!
“But I was determined to finish, so, with the support of my lecturers, once the twins were six months old I came back, with hubby and twins in tow, breastfed them in our lecture breaks and lunch breaks and so we went on. I started my final module in September 2019 – my dissertation, whilst once again working full time and juggling four children and the end was in sight.”
Varda Lassman, Msc Health Management alumna and student speaker, City Winter graduation ceremony, 2022
Starting her final MSc course module coincided with Varda taking on a new, full-time role as District Nurse Service Manager and Deputy Associate Director of Nursing, Adult Community Services, Whittington Health NHS Trust , and she completed the module after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020.
“Yep – Covid. It came, it multiplied, and it conquered – but we went on. In the face of working like the NHS had never worked before, against something so disrespectful of life, we went on. I completed my dissertation and the masters, and I was elated. Now, I tell you this story, not to labour the point of my experience at all but rather to say that life will always have a way of getting in the way.”
She ended her speech with a famous quote:
“Nelson Mandela once said: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ So, I implore all of you – lean into what is difficult and take the best of it and then go out there and change the world for the better.”
Reflecting on her journey at City, Varda said:
Greg Layther, Programme Director for the MSc in Health Management course at City, University of London said:
"The MSc health management is much more than the sum of its parts, it is the sum of many great students, their experiences, contributions, and endeavours. This is what makes the MSc Health Management such a special programme."