NRF Foundation gives once-in-a-lifetime experience to scholarship finalists


The five finalists for the NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship were interviewed in New York City by retail executives this fall in the last round of judging to determine the recipient of the $25,000 tuition scholarship.

The top candidate will be announced on Jan. 12, 2020 during the NRF Foundation Honors. The other four finalists will receive $10,000 each.

The NRF Foundation gave the candidates the unique opportunity to travel to NYC in October for these interviews, bringing the students together earlier than in previous years of the competition. Because of the Foundation, the students are expanding their skills and professional networks in a powerful way at key moments in their lives. 

In addition to the interviews with the judges, their trip included a professional photo shoot and time at the YouTube Space studio to capture and share more of their personal stories. Their video will be shown during the NRF Foundation Honors to an audience of more than 1,000 prominent people in the industry.  

During their visit, the students met some of retail’s most influential leaders at the NRF Foundation board meeting.  The NRF Foundation Board of Directors, which is chaired by Macy’s Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Gennette, includes executives who lead some of the industry’s biggest brands.

The Next Generation finalists were chosen because of their leadership skills, retail experience and desire to make an impact. Their case studies on brand growth and expansion for Hill City (a Gap Inc. brand) distinguished them among a pool of 25 semifinalists, and showed their potential for developing skills in retail, business and critical thinking. The scholarship experience is designed to encourage the students to launch their career in retail and recognize them as the future leaders of the industry. 

The finalists for the 2020 Next Generation Scholarship are:

  • Maria Hartke – University of Arizona – retailing and consumer sciences
  • Lisa Lam – University of Florida – finance
  • Annie Hope Mazzola – Indiana University – apparel merchandising
  • Madeline Medby – LIM College – fashion merchandising
  • LeAnn Percivill – Texas A&M University – marketing, retail buying and management

They will unite again in NYC Jan. 9 – 12 for the NRF Foundation Student Program. About 1,100 students from colleges across the country attend the program, which features breakout sessions, mentoring opportunities and exclusive tours of signature store locations across NYC.

The Next Generation Scholarship finalists – along with the top teams of the NRF Foundation Student Challenge – will end their long weekend with a celebration at the NRF Foundation Honors, an exclusive evening that recognizes the power of retail to build extraordinary careers and spark incredible change.  

These amazing students will be on the stage being honored. And they’ll be in excellent company.

Get more information about the scholarship opportunities for students who attend NRF University Member schools and learn more about previous finalists here.