NRF and University of Phoenix Announce 2017 ‘Dream BIG’ Scholarships

WASHINGTON, October 11, 2017 – The National Retail Federation and University of Phoenix today named the Dream BIG Scholarship recipients for 2017, recognizing individuals who want to enhance their retail careers through education.

“At NRF, we put a premium on lifelong learning, and we’re inspired by the number of individuals in the retail industry who are constantly looking for new ways to improve their craft,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Our mission is to nurture the raw talent and determination that exists in each one of our Dream BIG Scholarship recipients by giving them the resources they need to further their education. This opportunity for professional development is a win for scholarship recipients, their employers, the customers they serve and the retail industry at large.”

“Technology and consumer demands continue to drive change within the retail industries,” said Dennis Bonilla, executive dean, School of Business and College of Information Systems and Technology, University of Phoenix. “Education is essential to helping one grow in their career in order to be prepared for and take advantage of opportunities that change may bring. University of Phoenix is proud to work with the National Retail Federation to develop the next generation of leaders in retail by providing an industry-aligned education designed to help them succeed.”

The 20 recipients are current retail employees and were selected out of hundreds of applicants from 70 retailers across the country. Each will receive a full-tuition scholarship to pursue an undergraduate or master’s degree at University of Phoenix.

The recipients of the 2017 Dream Big scholarship are:

Degree Pursuing
Alexis Katsfanas
Assistant Buy Planner
Alison Wallace
Burlington Stores
Associate Planner
Ana Baron
Moreno Valley, Calif.
The Kroger Co.
Production Administrative Support Personnel
Aundrea Hyde
Glendora, Calif.
Jewelry Sales Supervisor
Emily Villatoro
Falls Church, Va.
Assistant Department Manager
Hailey McLean
Flower Mound, Texas
The Container Store
Customer Solutions Training and Quality Assurance Sales Trainer
Hannah Wong
Austin, Texas
Whole Foods Market
Accounts Payable Operations Coordinator
Justin Martin
Saks Fifth Avenue
Area Sales Manager
Katherine Mather
Lake Dallas, Texas
The Container Store
Customer Solutions Department Point Person
Katherine Watt
Anaheim, Calif.
Red Robin
General Manager
Kelly Corcoran
Visual Merchandising Lead
Kenny Rogers
Sulphur Springs, Calif.
Steak n Shake
Human Resources Business Partner
Korinne Jones
Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
Commercial Manager
Kristen Turner
Robbinsville, N.J.
Burlington Stores
Assistant Buyer
Leslie Courtney
Fort Mitchell, Ky.
The Kroger Co.
Senior Director of Shared Services
Michael Billett
Boardman, Ohio
Mattress Firm
Area Manager
Natalie Harkness
Duluth, Minn.
Associate Buyer
Sean Lenahan
Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Brooks Brothers
Store Manager
Shannon White
Atlanta, GA
Lane Bryant
Store Manager
Varinia Boyd
Gilbert, AZ
Brooks Brothers
District Manager

Retail executives from some of the industry’s best-known companies including Best Buy, Neiman Marcus and The Container Store served as members of the executive judging committee that chose the recipients.

The Dream BIG Scholarship program is made possible through a collaboration between NRF’s nonprofit arm, the NRF Foundation, and University of Phoenix. This is the fifth year the NRF Foundation and University of Phoenix have offered the Dream BIG Scholarship, which is awarded to current retail employees. Meet the 2017 recipients and learn more about the Dream BIG Scholarship.

About University of Phoenix®
University of Phoenix is innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit

About NRF
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. does not sell products or services.  Please visit the POS Retail software , POS Hardware, Credit Card Processing and POS Hospitality pages (see left side menu above) to find great POS products. Please let vendors know you’ve seen their products here. Thank you. For sponsorship information see the link below on the Footer menu.

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