As an M.S. with Thesis in Food and Resource Economics student, when Faith Aiya walked the graduation stage in the O’Connell Center last Thursday evening, she knew it would not mark the end of her academic journey at the University of Florida, but rather the start of the next chapter. After successfully defending her thesis on actual production and crop insurance for citrus with chair Dr. Ariel Singerman, Faith will be continuing with our department as she begins to work toward her Ph.D. in Food and Resource Economics.
Over the past two years, Faith has excelled as both a leader among her fellow students and as a researcher among her colleagues in the field of agricultural economics.
Within FRE, Faith has served as the Master’s representative to the Applied Economics Graduate Student Organization last year and secretary this year. Next year, she will be serving as the Vice President of Social Affairs. She is also highly active within UF Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS). The group is a chapter of the national MANRRS organization, which includes thousands of students at the undergraduate and graduate levels across different universities along with professional members, seeks to represent diverse backgrounds across all areas of study in related industries and provide academic and networking opportunities. Faith will be going into her second term as treasurer for the UF chapter next year.
In February 2022, she won third place in the Southern Agricultural Economics Association’s three-minute thesis competition at their annual conference. In July of the same year, she won the Outstanding Graduate Student Poster Award in the Specialty Crops Economics Section at the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association annual conference.
One accomplishment from her time as a master’s student that stands out the most to Faith however, was one of the most recent when she was recognized with a Certificate of Outstanding Merit from the University this past November at the International Student Achievement Awards put on by the UF International Center. The award was special to her she said, because she was nominated by the department for it. A Nigerian citizen, she also said it brought her pride to be an example of the important contributions of international students to the university.
“It spoke to the fact that they believed in me and thought I was a good representation of what is going on in the department,” Faith said.
As she begins her Ph.D., Faith is looking forward to the research she will conduct with co-chairs Dr. Lijun “Angelia” Chen and Dr. Kimberley Morgan.
Already, she has started work with Dr. Chen on a continuation of a previous study by Chen looking at changes to the food lifestyles of consumers during the pandemic with data from 2020-2022.
“This will be the time for me to make something out of myself in the research world,” Faith said.
She also looks forward to preparing herself to succeed in a career in academia or industry.
“I will take advantage of my time as a student to prepare for both,” Faith said. Teaching, doing research, and, at the same time, I would like to do some internships in one or two summers. I would like to be a well-rounded job candidate.”