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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.

Next Generation scholars at Retail's BIG Show 2015

Next Generation Class of 2015

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$100,000 in scholarships

NRF Foundation announces finalists of 2015 Next Generation Scholarship. The program will award $100,000 in scholarships to 24 outstanding students. Read the press release.

Talented students from 24 NRF member schools have been nominated to represent the next generation of retail leaders. The nominees below received a travel scholarship to attend Retail’s BIG Show, Student Program and the inaugural NRF Foundation Gala in New York City.

Retail executives from nearly 20 companies selected five finalists to receive scholarships. The top recipient will receive a $25,000 scholarship and four finalists will each receive $10,000 scholarships. Meet the finalists and see more scenes from the NRF Foundation's inaugural Gala.

Top Recipient

Sarah Kendzior

Sarah Kendzior
University of Minnesota

In her own words, “No great success is ever achieved without some form of failure along the way.” After struggling to find an internship her sophomore year, Sarah Kendzior landed two consecutive internships and eventually a full-time job offer from Kohl’s. She now knows that retail “is always changing. It is revolutionary. It is innovative. It is filled with opportunity.” But most importantly, it is precisely where she wants to be in the future.

Runner-Up

Biancha Felix

Biancha Felix
LIM College

Independent and self-reliant at 16, Biancha Felix discovered her love for retail when she started working part-time at Charlotte Russe to pay her college tuition. “It fascinated me. It distracted me. It became a place that felt like home … It consumed me.” Her drive is evident as she is a full-time student and intern with a part-time job. In retail, she has “found not only her true career aspiration, but also her life’s calling.”

Finalists

Courtney Hunter

Courtney Hunter
Philadelphia University

Courtney Hunter has learned that in order to be a strong leader you must first be an effective communicator. She believes that success is impossible without passion, persistent determination, confidence in your instincts and the courage to pursue innovation. Her undeniable drive and ability to grasp concepts quickly has led to recognition by retailers: She’ll be interning at QVC during the Spring 2015 semester, and Burlington Stores has offered her a second summer internship.

Garrett Ledbetter

Garrett Ledbetter
Indiana University

For two years, Garrett Ledbetter has balanced a full course load while working full-time at Macy’s — no easy task. Through these experiences he has realized that teamwork is not only necessary, but also the best way to achieve goals. “Each individual brings a unique set of skills to the table and combining everyone’s strengths helps the group to succeed.” IU Senior Lecturer Janis Shaffer notes that Garrett is ‘the most curious and well-read student I’ve ever had in my 22 years of teaching. He is passionate about the industry and always wants to learn more.”

Ashley Nudge

Ashley Nudge
University of North Texas

Through her work at the Banana Republic Factory Store for the past two years, Ashley Nudge has learned the best way to lead is by example. UNT Senior Lecturer Marissa Zorola writes, “Her enthusiasm to expand her experiences is refreshing and her desire to succeed makes her a role model for her fellow classmates.” Ashley aspires to be a creative director and believes having great communication skills to inspire and lead those around her is key to bringing any vision to life.

Semi-finalists

Deema Aridi

Deema Aridi
Texas Woman's University

Evelin Castillo Chang

Evelin Castillo Chang
Drexel University

Haelee Catchpole

Haelee Catchpole
University of North Carolina - Greensboro

Kayla Cline

Kayla Cline
University of Houston

Christen Finkbeiner

Christen Finkbeiner
University of Florida

Kasia Gibbs

Kasia Gibbs
Kent State University

Jenna Gorman

Jenna Gorman
Florida State University

Samantha Hale

Samantha Hale
Auburn University

Michelle Herlihy

Michelle Herlihy
Ohio University

Morgan Jones

Morgan Jones
Johnson & Wales University - Providence

Samantha Lockhart

Samantha Lockhart
Lasell College

 

Dylan Mack

Dylan Mack
University of Wisconsin - Madison

 

Karla Maldonado

Karla Maldonado
FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

Lucille Reynolds

Lucille Reynolds
University of Georgia

 

 

Kaila Richardson

Kaila Richardson
Santa Clara University

 

 

Katie Thornton

Katie Thornton
Mississippi State University

Cody Villanueva

Cody Villanueva
The University of Arizona

Anna Watson

Anna Watson
Georgia Southern University

Courtney Whitaker

Courtney Whitaker
University of South Carolina

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