Ambitious students from more than 35 NRF member schools competed to represent the next generation of retail leaders. The students below received travel scholarships to attend the Student Program at Retail’s BIG Show and the NRF Foundation Gala in New York City.
Retail executives from 20 companies selected 25 semi-finalists before narrowing the field to five finalists. The top recipient will be announced at the NRF Foundation Gala and receive a $25,000 scholarship; four finalists will each receive $10,000 scholarships. Meet the Next Generation Class of 2017 and read the press release.
University of Pennsylvania
Kaley Suero is a passionate learner, “a leader by nature who demonstrates a level of maturity beyond her years,” says Linda Shein, managing director of The Wharton School’s Baker Retailing Center. Kaley initiated Wharton’s annual “retail innovation” trip to New York, and has gained experience in retail in Hong Kong, Italy and Tel Aviv as well as the United States. While spending the summer at Zenreach, Kaley contributed to the application of technology to change how retailers think about and track marketing spending. Her experience further solidified her interest in “playing an active role in the future of retail” and her decision to devote her career to being part of the industry’s technological evolution.
Makaela Hill is “extremely self-motivated and has a strong desire to learn and contribute in a retail environment,” says Douglas Clark, VP of merchandise planning and allocation at DSW, where Makaela interned during the summer of 2016. After discovering that her love for clothing and intuition for business and innovation could be combined through a degree in Apparel Merchandising, Makaela dove head-first into the industry. Ultimately, she hopes to establish and lead “a company that specializes in utilizing 3D printing/innovative technology as a core part of creating goods or customer experiences.”
University of Georgia
Jill Davis discovered her calling for retail the summer before college when she began creating and selling recycled, handcrafted and vintage clothes and accessories on Etsy. An internship with Alex and Ani in Atlanta solidified Jill’s passion for sustainable practices in the retail industry. An incredibly driven and dedicated learner, Jill hopes to use her voice and education to increase efficiency efforts in high-end markets to make a lasting difference in the world of retail.
The New School - Parsons School of Design
An aspiring fashion designer and entrepreneur, Margaret Kwon views the retail industry as the platform where design meets function and business. Margaret’s years of retail experience with DKNY and Kate Spade have shaped her holistic view of the industry, and she exhibits profound knowledge and appreciation of fashion theory, trends, consumer behavior and omnichannel customer experiences. By coupling creativity with aspirational leadership, Margaret aims to launch her own demi-couture range of womenswear that “challenges outdated fashion industry behaviors through strategic sourcing, production and sustainable quality.”
After making the leap from a large state university to LIM College to pursue fashion studies, Danielle Mennella realized that retail would allow her to combine her strong math skills with a passion for fashion into a long-term career path in financial merchandise planning. Danielle’s applied retail experience spans varied brands including The Gap Inc., Giorgio Armani, Haddad Brands and Celine, all of which significantly developed her professional, organizational and learning agility skills. Danielle believes that “without risk, there is no reward,” and has been consistently pushing boundaries and taking the risks necessary to accomplish her goals and further her career.