Descriptions should be written as one or more proper sentences, starting with a capital letter and ending with a full stop, exclamation mark, or question mark.

City, University of London student speaker, Naomi Fallon, reflects on obtaining a master’s degree during the COVID-19 pandemic, as she graduates with Distinction

By Mr Shamim Quadir (Senior Communications Officer), Published

Naomi Fallon joined the Food Policy MSc course in September 2019 and graduated last week with Distinction at a ceremony for students from City, University of London’s School of Health and Psychological Sciences

For her course dissertation, Naomi conducted a case study of the local food response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Preston, Lancashire, from which she identified lessons for building a more resilient food system.

Prior to her master’s study, she completed a BSc in Nutrition & Exercise Science (Human Nutrition) at the University of Central Lancashire, graduating with first class honours.

During her time at the Centre for Food Policy, Naomi’s colleagues were highly impressed with her capacity to address issues facing the global food system through her studies, particularly over the very difficult pandemic years.

Naomi collaborated with three other students in a global Food Systems student competition, with the team submitting their ideas to a House of Lords call for evidence, and a document published by the Environment and Climate Change Committee. She continues to support current students at City, including presenting at a dissertation workshop earlier this year.

Naomi Fallon with fellow MSc Food Policy graduates at the summer graduation ceremony (credit: @wellsrebecca)

During her speech to fellow graduates, Naomi reflected on the impact of the pandemic on them all, and how plans can and will change, saying:

“As well as the global experiences of living through the COVID-19 crisis, I’m sure we each will have faced our own personal struggles and adversities. At points over your academic journey at City you may have felt like this moment was not going to happen, I know I did. But it has. We can walk out of here proud at our achievement, bolstered by the knowledge of our resilience in the face of such adversity.

“You don't have to have the future all figured out. Plans change. We all know that now. I certainly never expected to be here, on stage today. But if there’s one thing I have learned, it is that life tends to get more interesting when you step outside your comfort zone. “

Naomi also shared how following what drives her has led her to where she is now, saying:

I don't have an inspirational quote as such, but if I have a piece of advice, it would be to pursue what drives and excites you, and say yes to opportunities that open up on that path, no matter how daunting. I commuted to London every week from my home in Lancashire to study the Masters in Food Policy at City because the course, and faculty, inspired me. And now, as a result of that, my family and I are living here, and thriving.

Prior to her graduation at the summer ceremony, Naomi had already started her doctoral study at the UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training (UKFS-CDT), a prestigious new PhD programme led by the University of Greenwich, where City is a partner, designed to produce future leaders to transform the UK food system.  

Naomi ended her speech with the line:

“You may not feel it yet - or you may - but you are leaders. We are leaders. Every single one of us.“

Reflecting on the graduation ceremony shortly after the event, she later shared:

"It was an incredible day and a joy to be able to celebrate together."

Alongside her study, Naomi continues to work part-time as a Research Assistant at the University of Central Lancashire in the External Relations team, with current research projects including the impact of school closures on primary science learning, and issues relating to widening participation in higher education.

Dr Rebecca Wells, Programme Director for the MSc in Food Policy course at City, University of London said:

“We at the Centre for Food Policy are so proud of all our graduates and their hard work. As we prepare to welcome a new cohort of Food Policy MSc students in September, we know our graduates, like Naomi, will be an inspiration to future students on their learning journey with us.”

Find out more

You can watch Naomi Fallon's speech at the School of Health and Psychological Sciences Summer Graduation Ceremony on the City, University of London website’s Graduations page:

Select the 18th July 2022, 14:00 - Afternoon ceremony, and skip forward 1 hour 43 minutes of the recording for the oration to the award (from Dr Michelle Parker, Senior Lecturer in Nursing at the School of Health and Psychological Sciences), followed by Naomi's speech ending at 1 hour 47 minutes).

Visit the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London.