Indian American Jessica Bachan Singh, a retail merchandising and product development major at Florida State University who has been volunteering in Ethiopia over the summer; empowering girls, education and economic development and one day desires to work in the fashion industry, was one of the five recipients of the NRF Foundation 2017 Ray Greenly Scholarship.
“The Ray Greenly Scholarship was established to cultivate the next generation of digital retail talent as they embark on their careers. The students were challenged with a real-world, in-store retail application of their skills and talents — and they didn’t disappoint. Our five winners blew us away with their innovative solutions using technology to connect customers to brands and products. We are excited to watch them continue to do great things in the future,” said Ellen Davis, the Executive Director of NRF Foundation.
In order to receive a scholarship, each applicant was required to write an essay on innovation along with providing a two-minute personal brand video and create an innovative digital prototype that could serve as a complementary resource to the in-store experience for West Elm customers at their furniture and home décor branch of Williams-Sonoma Inc.
“Technology and in-store experience are areas we are constantly looking to improve, so we selfishly built the challenge around both of those opportunities. Switching the application requirement from paper submission to prototype for the first time may have been asking a lot, but ultimately we believed it paid off for everyone. The submissions were ambitious and inspiring, which is exactly why we wanted to participate in the Ray Greenly Scholarship Competition,” said Luke Chatelain, West Elm Vice President of Innovation.
Digital retail executives from 20 companies were involved in selecting the semi-finalists based on the creativity and innovative spirit demonstrated in their applications.
The other four recipients of the scholarship include Tess Burns, a senior at Savannah College of Art and Design, who will receive $25,000; Quinn Vissak, a computer science and engineering major at the University of Connecticut; Eric Wagner, a mechanical engineering and business administration major at the University of Florida and Julian Walker, a master’s degree candidate in integrated marketing at Northwestern University, who will all receive $10,000 along with Singh.
The scholarship was established to honor former Shop.org Vice President Ray Greenly, who died of cancer in 2005.
The program provides financial aid to students studying in fields such as engineering, computer science, marketing, business, e-commerce and economics.