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FIDM NRF Foundation Student Challenge Team stands at the podium at the awards ceremony in New York

FIDM NRF Foundation Student Challenge Team Takes First Place

Congratulations to FIDM Students Haley Shannon, Tooba Athar, and K-Lynn Ward as they won first place in the 2021-2022 NRF Foundation Student Challenge, and a $5,000 scholarship each. 

Mentored by FIDM Instructors Sheryl Marcus and Tom Selinske, the students were tasked with acting as members of the Kohl’s product development team and had the opportunity to develop a new private label brand that embodies the meaning of diversity and promotes equity and inclusion through product assortment, marketing strategy and pricing. 

This year, 19 teams from 16 NRF Foundation University Member schools competed in the NRF Foundation Student Challenge business case competition for a chance to earn tuition scholarships and industry recognition.

"The students were recognized for all their many hours of work on the NRF Foundation Student Challenge, and it is so rewarding that we competed at a national level and now have placed first, for two years in a row," said Tom Selinske. "I attribute this success to hard work and forming teams that were from different majors and blended their complimentary skills and collaborated to do great work."

The awards ceremony took place last night in New York. "The students were able to interact and have conversations with CEOs of companies like Michelle Gass of Kohl's, Jeff Gennette of Macy's, Brian Cornell of Target, PWC, and may executives from many firms," continued Tom Selinske. "Many approached our students and wanted to talk about career opportunities. This experience has been life-changing for both of our teams from 2021 and 2022."

"We were able to ask questions, and be curious, and most importantly listen to any valuable information and advice they wanted to share," said first place winner K-Lynn Ward about connecting with the leaders in the industry. "It's clear that the NRF Foundation brings together those seeking guidance, and those seeking to give it, and I cannot be more excited about my future in the fashion industry."

First place winner Haley Shannon said, "We had such an amazing time this past week in New York. The NRF Foundation is such an amazing organization and we were so honored to be a part of this challenge!"

“It feels so surreal to be named first place," said K-Lynn. "I was so shocked standing on that stage as they announced we had won. Over the course of our time in New York, we were able to connect with the other teams, and hear about the ways they planed to implement D&I, and we knew the competition was tough! It was amazing being able to network and get to know other students from around the country. Being apart of the winning team feels amazing, but is really reflective of the long nights we put in, the sacrifice and guidance of our mentors, and our overall passion for D&I.”

“I remember hearing our mentor Sheryl screaming as we walked up to receive our award and thinking we were so lucky to have her and Tom in our corner, rooting for us, cheering us on, and pouring out all her knowledge, support and guidance."

"It was like winning the Academy Award for supporting actress!" said FIDM Instructor and NRF mentor Sheryl Marcus. "I can’t put into words the thrill and excitement we all felt. To have last year's first place [FIDM] team there to experience their moment was unbelievable! Tooba, Haley, and K-Lynn are truly remarkable young women—true partners that made up a dynamic team. Watching CEOs come up to them and ask about their future plans could not have made this 'mother' any prouder. I am also very grateful for Tom as a partner! A highlight of my career."

Watch the highlights from the NRF Foundation Honors 2022.

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