We're undergoing maintenance. Some site features are not accessible.

Student Challenge Class of 2017

The Big Pitch

The NRF Foundation collaborated with STORY and KPMG for the 2017 Student Challenge Competition - The BIG Pitch. Nearly 30 teams from NRF member schools selected one of the following themes to focus on: Made in America, Sensory, or Travel. They were tasked with finding two to four of the smartest, most creative people they knew to create a 20-page pitch presentation, mock website and 90-second pitch video to convince Rachel Shechtman, the founder and CEO of STORY, why and how their STORY should be produced.

Each team was assigned a KPMG mentor; after an intense round of judging, 10 teams advanced to the semi-finals, which include Q+A calls with a panel of retail executives. Three teams moved on to the finals where they presented live to retail executives at Retails BIG Show Student Program.

The Scholarships

Each student on the top team from Georgia Southern University received a $5,000 scholarship; students on the runner-up team from the University of North Texas received a $2,500 scholarship and third place team members from the University of Pennsylvania each earned a $1,500 scholarship. The top team was named during the NRF Foundation Gala on Sunday, January 15, in New York.

SC 2017 top team
Top Team

Georgia Southern University
Keller Campbell, Jeffrey Licciardello, Alexis Montano and Kelsey Wertz

STORY Theme: Made in America
KPMG Mentor: Ali Wampler

Runner Up Team

University of North Texas
Sarah Muller, Hailey Turner

STORY Theme: Travel
KPMG Mentor: Will Garman

SC UNT 2017
SC 2017 third place team
Third Place Team

University of Pennsylvania
Jake Fischer, Anissa Lee, Holly Li and David Pang

STORY Theme: Sensory
KPMG Mentor: Priyesh Upreti


SC 2017 semifinalist CCC
Columbia College Chicago
Andrea Knight, Blake Fortin, Sammantha Hoefs, Victoria Shilby
KPMG Mentor: Dan McNevin
SC 2017 semifinalists FIDM
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
Alexandra Bejan, Dmitri Walker, Sung Cho
KPMG Mentor: Renee Howard
SC 2017 semifinalists FIDM 2
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
Amanda Tobias, Chloe White, Jilian Colin, Kathryn Wysocki
KPMG Mentor: Renee Howard
SC 2017 semifinalists FSU
Florida State University
Katya Anleu, Leah Crooks, Mitchell Gaylord
KPMG Mentor: Sunder Ramakrishnan
SC 2017 semifinalists IU
Indiana University
Jessica Huang, Maggie Mendola, Riley O'Bryan, Sanjana Palepu
KPMG Mentor: Kamy Devaguptapu
SC 2017 semifinalists UGA
University of Georgia
Keilea Orr, Madison Lindley, Taylor Timmons
KPMG Mentor: Joel Rampoldt
SC 2017 semifinalists UW Madison
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Breanna Blazei, Brian Lucksinger, Kendra Trost, Krystal Jacobs
KPMG Mentor: Greg Brunner

Participating schools

As each member university could sponsor two teams, 30 teams from 21 schools participated this year. The creativity and hard work demonstrated by all of the teams made it extremely difficult to select only 10 semi-finalists. Congratulations to all of the teams on their creative ideas to bring their themes of Sensory, Travel, and Made in America to life:

Columbia College Chicago, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), Fashion Institute of Technology, Florida State University, Georgia Southern University, Indiana University, Lasell College, Mississippi State University, Pennsylvania State University, Texas State University - San Marcos, The University of Arizona, University of Delaware, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Houston, University of Illinois, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of North Texas, University of Pennsylvania, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and University of Wisconsin-Madison.