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Student Challenge Class of 2018

The Big Pitch

The NRF Foundation collaborated with STORY and KPMG for the 2018 Student Challenge Competition - The BIG Pitch. Nearly 30 teams from NRF member schools selected one of the following sponsors to focus on: 3M, CVS, or StaplesThey were tasked with finding two to four of the smartest, most creative people they knew to create a 25-page pitch presentation and 90-second pitch video to convince the Chief Marketing Officer of 3M, CVS, or Staples to select their STORY.

Each team was assigned a KPMG mentor; after an intense round of judging, 8 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 Columbia College Chicago - Staples received a $5,000 scholarship; students on the runner-up team from Columbia College Chicago - 3M 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 14, in New York. 

Student Challenge 2018 Top Team
Top Team

Columbia College Chicago - Staples
Ashley Cairns, Blake Fortin, and Kendall McDermott

STORY Sponsor: Staples
KPMG Mentor: Leila Shin

Runner Up Team

Columbia College Chicago - 3M
Allison Coppedge, Sara Diaz de Villegas, Nathan Procell, Lane Hedler

STORY Sponsor: 3M
KPMG Mentor: Leila Shin

Student Challenge 3M Team
Student Challenge third place team
Third Place Team

University of Pennsylvania
Anita Mo, Kelsey Serraneau, Walter Little

STORY Sponsor: 3M 
KPMG Mentor: Brett Benner


SC Semi-finalists FIDM team
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising
Natasha Azurdia, Njeri Joseph, Tiffany Tran, Whitney Sutherland
KPMG Mentor: Elisa Holland
SC Semi-finalists FSU Team
Florida State University
Alyese Shaffer, Alyssa Menendez, Jennifer Groce
KPMG Mentor: Ali Wampler
SC Semi-finalists ISU Team
Iowa State University
Jennifer Junker, Katie Dukes
KPMG Mentor: Leila Shin
SC Semi-finalists Meredith College Team
Meredith College
Allison High, Patricia Kalevas
KPMG Mentor: Swetha Ramjee
SC Semi-finalists UW Madison Team
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Danielle Weber, Elizabeth Wanzer, Megan Lund, Victoria Rustad
KPMG Mentor: Vera Nieuwland

Participating schools

As each member university could sponsor two teams, 24 teams from 19 schools participated this year. The creativity and hard work demonstrated by all of the teams made it extremely difficult to select only 8 semi-finalists. Congratulations to all of the teams on their creativity in bringing their ideas for 3M, CVS, or Staples to life: 

Bradley University, Butler University, Columbia College Chicago, Drexel University, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Fashion Institute of Technology, Florida State University, Georgia Southern University, Indiana University, Iowa State University, Lasell College, LIM College, Meredith College, Texas State University - San Marcos, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of North Texas, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Wisconsin - Madison.