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The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

Dream BIG Class of 2013

Daniel White

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Daniel White

Daniel White, a 2013 recipient, received an MBA from University of Phoenix in 2015.

Last spring, we were proud and excited to learn that we would have our first Dream BIG graduate — Daniel White, a 2013 recipient who worked as a store manager for visual sales at The Container Store. He is now the store manager for L Brands’ flagship Victoria’s Secret PINK store in Columbus, Ohio. STORES Magazine checked in to see how he's faring, and published the following interview in the March 2016 issue: 

What impact did receiving the Dream BIG scholarship have on your life/career?

Just applying for the scholarship was an exercise in understanding my career path and putting my goals in focus. From the moment I received the call that I would be a recipient, it opened doors and possibilities. This opportunity gave me a more concrete jumping-off point for the rest of my life.

How did you balance going back to school while working full-time?

By leveraging an online university that has experience in motivating and managing the education of non-traditional students, the NRF Foundation virtually guarantees the success of its Dream BIG recipients. I found that my family, friends and colleagues were very supportive of the time I needed for my studies, which allowed me the flexibility to complete work and projects on time.

How did the education you received at University of Phoenix help you in your career?

Receiving my MBA gave me another level of clarity related to business perspective and analysis. My ownership in my company is more global due to a higher understanding of business law, project planning, leadership dynamics and data analytics.

What was your greatest achievement since starting your classes at University of Phoenix?

I actually have several. First, I wrote in one of my scholarship essays in 2013 that my goal was to one day “be on a stage espousing the benefits of Conscious Capitalism.” In June of last year, I was asked by The Container Store to participate in our national conference and introduce Raj Sisodia, founder of the Conscious Capitalism movement and author of “Firms of Endearment,” to 500 leaders from across the country.

Second, being able to continue to grow my career and have the opportunity to work for one of the largest retail brands in the world was a welcome and humbling achievement. This new role is challenging and fun.

Finally, and more significant than either of those, I earned my MBA during one of the most trying times for my family. Six months before I graduated, my mother was diagnosed with terminal blood cancer. University of Phoenix, my professors and cohort members found ways to support my education needs while I was also spending nights in the hospital by my mother’s side. She got to see me graduate in March — four months before losing her cancer battle. I am so grateful to everyone’s support throughout my mother’s illness, allowing me to achieve my dream.

What advice do you have for fellow retailers who are thinking about applying for the scholarship?

Do it! The application process is easy for those who are passionate about retail. This scholarship gave me the reason to stop putting off my education and start prioritizing it. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Learn more about Daniel White from this 2013 profile:

Passion and pride for retail that simply shines through

When Daniel White talks about his love of the retail industry, the most striking thing is not just how much he enjoys his job, but how much pride he takes in it. Retail isn’t always considered the most “traditional” career path, Daniel says, but the opportunities The Container Store has offered him, including leadership responsibilities, an introduction to the idea of conscious capitalism and the ability to interact with lots of different people, have helped Daniel develop as a manager and as someone who genuinely enjoys working with people on a daily basis.

Daniel didn’t start out dreaming about a future in retail. After college, he took jobs right away to help him find the best career fit. At one point, he was working four jobs at the same time. Eventually, he took a position at one of his favorite stores, The Container Store, in Ohio. Whether he was unloading trucks, training new employees or managing the store, Daniel discovered that the retail industry resonated with him.

His skills and commitment to The Container Store shone through when the company offered to send him to Washington, D.C. to help manage a high-volume store. Daniel jumped at the opportunity – despite never having even visited the city before! Now, back in Ohio, he’s ready for the next big opportunity in his career, pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration, thanks to an NRF Foundation and University of Phoenix Dream BIG scholarship.

Above all, Daniel is deeply committed to the core of the retail business: the customer. He loves the challenge of getting to the root of a problem with a customer and figuring out the best solution. “There are so many incredible people in retail, from those leading the organization, to part timers with 30 years experience, to our customers. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Try to understand their needs and motivations.”

The Dream BIG scholarship and MBA from University of Phoenix will help Daniel expand his vision of the big picture, while also applying the lessons of hard work, leadership and customer service to his future, both at The Container Store and in his lifelong retail career plans.

The National Retail Federation collaborates with University of Phoenix to offer the Dream BIG Scholarship to people who work in retail. Meet the Class of 2013 and learn more about the Dream BIG Scholarship.