Columbia College Chicago senior named 2021 NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholar

By Lottie Watts

The top recipient of the 2021 Next Generation Scholarship is Amaiya Sims, a senior at Columbia College Chicago. She received $25,000 in the scholarship sponsored by SAS.

The announcement was made by NRF Foundation Executive Director Bill Thorne in January during NRF 2021: Retail's Big Show.

“The Next Generation Scholarship is the highest honor that the NRF Foundation can bestow upon a student,” Thorne says. “The future of retail is in very good hands, and our Next Generation Scholar is a prime example of that.”

In addition to Sims, four other finalists received $10,000 each.

“We’re proud to support this program in its mission to help emerging retail leaders gain a firm foothold in our industry,” SAS Vice President of Global Retail and CPG Solutions Richard Widdowson says.

Sims, a fashion merchandising major, will graduate this spring and join Kohl’s as a merchant in training.  

“From here, my biggest thing is being ready to share my story and encouraging other students to go for all of these wonderful opportunities and experiences,” Sims says.

Applications for the 2022 NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship are now open and are due April 16. A pool of 25 semifinalists will be chosen to complete a case study created in collaboration with Meijer.

Undergraduates of all majors at NRF University Member schools who will be seniors or juniors in January 2022 are invited to participate. Educators and students who are interested in learning more about the NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship can join us for an informational call on March 5 at 3 p.m. ET. 

The NRF Foundation continues to offer free programming focused on career opportunities in the retail industry. Spring NRF Foundation All Access is underway now with recruiter chats, on-demand conversations with retail professionals and online Executive Mentor Experience sessions planned for March.  

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