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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

Jonathon Wolheim

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Jonathon Wolheim

Jonathon Wolheim, manager at Apple, is pursuing a bachelor's degree in business from University of Phoenix.

Retail innovation lights a fire for Apple scholarship recipient

Jonathon Wolheim may have just had one of the best weeks of his life. Within a matter of days, he got married, learned he is the recipient of a Dream BIG scholarship to help him earn a Bachelor's of Science in Global Business Management, and went on a honeymoon to Sequoia National Park. Not too shabby as weeks go!

Over the years, Jonathon has worked for a number of retailers, including REI, Safeway, and most recently, Apple. He always wanted to finish his bachelor’s degree, but stayed full-time in retail because leadership opportunities kept presenting themselves to him. Despite his busy schedule, Jonathon kept his eye on the broader picture. Every morning at 6 a.m., he watches CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street,” tuning in to hear the latest jobs reports and economic updates. Learning about the retail industry’s robust role in the economy helped solidify Jonathon’s commitment to his chosen path. It also lit a fire in him to help continue the cycle of innovation that makes retail so exciting.

QR codes, mobile integration and the constantly changing customer are just a few of the current trends that drive Jonathon in his career. “The innovation aspect is why I love retail,” Jonathon explains. “I want to improve customer experiences, be a more inspiring leader and create jobs and influence teams. I can do that in retail.”

The flexibility of working in the stores was great and ... "working with customers really fit well with my personality,” Jonathon says. But after a few years, he hit a ceiling. He realized that he could take his career even further by finishing his degree. Not long after, Jonathon found an NRF Foundation update on LinkedIn that advertised the Dream BIG scholarship opportunity with the University of Phoenix. “That’s exactly what I want to do,” he thought.

As he pursues his new degree, Jonathon wants to broaden his perspective, developing ... "A much bigger lens to perceive what’s happening in the four walls of my own store, but also with an enhanced global perspective,” for his entire organization. “I’m on the retail leadership path,” he says.


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.