Clay Megan NRF

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Q&A: LIM’s Semifinalists in the NRF Foundation Next Gen Scholarship Competition

LIM students Clay Lute and Megan Marr are among the 25 semifinalists in the 2023 National Retail Federation Foundation Next Generation Scholarship competition, which involves completing aspirational case-studies for real-world retailers. Both Clay and Megan are rising seniors majoring in Fashion Merchandising, and the student body is so proud of the classmates who are representing our College in this prestigious competition!

How did you first get involved with the NRF Foundation?  

Clay: I had heard about the NRF Foundation through connections in the industry, and every year, this competition gains a lot of publicity. This year, I felt I had the proper experience to compete, so I partnered with my professor, who helped guide me in signing up for the competition. 

Megan: In the first semester of my freshman year, Professor Greene mentioned it would be a great opportunity for someone interested in going into the retail industry. Through the NRF Foundation and LIM’s NRFSA (National Retail Federation Student Association), I have built a network of like-minded students interested in pursuing a career in retail. I have also gained many opportunities to network directly with industry professionals as well as securing internships. 

What has been your favorite part of working on this case study so far?  

Clay: The best part so far has been the satisfaction of applying my real-world experience to the case. Working in merchandising provides a very niche set of skills and knowledge that doesn’t always get expressed in other avenues of life. Getting to use my expertise in supply chain, production law, and fabric strategy, in this case, has been rewarding. 

Megan: For the first round of the scholarship, we were tasked with finding a CSR opportunity for a retailer. My favorite part of this process was applying a cause I already cared about, the ongoing homeless epidemic, to my passion for retail. I wanted to show how the retail industry can make a sustainable, social, and economic impact. 

How has the NRF Foundation Generation Scholarship competition helped you learn and grow so far?  

Clay: In the initial step of the case, we were tasked with pitching new corporate social responsibility goals for a company. This experience allowed me to gain more insight into how companies interact with their associates and the world around them. My pitch focused on childcare solutions, which taught me a lot about the barriers to the workforce that exist for professionals with families. 

Megan: The NRF Next Generation Scholarship has not only pushed me to apply what I have learned in my classes at LIM but to think out-of-the-box about what the next generation of retail will look like. The case studies we were tasked with have pushed us to apply creativity and classroom skills in a real-world environment. We get to present to individuals working in the jobs we, as students, hope to occupy one day. These case studies are great resume builders that can help us land a job! 

What does being a semifinalist mean to you?  

Clay: Being a semifinalist gives me hope and validation. It would be a dream come true not only to carry the title given by this award, but to be able to graduate debt-free—that would be life-changing. During the pandemic, college students faced many challenges, so winning this competition would more than justify the extra work that I, and other students, have put in over the past few years. 

Megan: I have been lucky to meet many amazing retail students through the NRF and now know how competitive this scholarship is—it’s an honor to be a semifinalist. I am so grateful for the opportunity to compete in the next round alongside 24 other talented individuals. Without the help from my LIM classes and my mentor, Professor Greene, I would not have made it this far. They have helped shape me as a student and have been indispensable resources throughout this process.