The retail merchandising program is proud to share that, as part of its 2020 Retail Connect event, it was able to provide individual scholarships to six current retail students: Courtney Clark, Caroline Geiger, Pei Jet Teh, Olivia Rein, Annie Skogen, and Kersten Wetterstrom.
As the University’s signature retail conference, Retail Connect fosters growth, networking, and diffusion of innovation between retail industry professionals and students. This year, Retail Connect’s Platinum and Gold Event sponsorships made it possible for the retail merchandising program to create the Leadership & Diversity Scholarship and Leadership Awards, both of which aim to help support students. Students were selected through a competitive application process. In addition to provided resumes and cover letters, applicants had to demonstrate how they have contributed to building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment on campus and in their communities, as well as how they have demonstrated and shown leadership skills.
“This scholarship means a lot to me,” said Courtney Clark, recipient of the Target Leadership & Diversity Award. “It not only helps me financially and academically during these difficult times, but receiving this award gives me encouragement and motivation.”
The six scholarships awarded this year far surpassed event organizers’ expectations. “We were thrilled to be able to award more scholarships this year and it would not have been possible without our amazing sponsors,” said Center for Retail Design and Innovation Co-Director Peggy Lord. The two Leadership & Diversity scholarship recipients each received $2,500 while the four Leadership Award recipients each received $1,000.
“I am honored to have received this scholarship,” said Pei Jet Teh, recipient of the GEMS Leadership & Diversity Award.”This scholarship encourages me to continue learning and exploring. It shows me that I have the potential to be who I want to be.”
In addition to these scholarships, the event organizers also donated $8,000 to the College of Design Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarship Fund to help support incoming retail merchandising students from diverse backgrounds next year. Meet this year’s scholarship recipients:
Courtney Clark – Target Leadership & Diversity Award
Courtney is a senior majoring in retail merchandising with a double minor in management and art history. As a BIPOC student in her sorority, she has worked to eliminate bylaws that do not support equity and inclusion. She is currently interning at ShopHQ and working with eight other interns on a customer experience project that includes evaluating their target market, on-air programming, online experiences, and social media for the company.
Caroline Geiger – Deluxe Student Leadership Award
Caroline is a sophomore majoring in retail merchandising and is the vice president of the Retail Merchandising Student Leadership Board and National Retail Federation Student Association (NRFSA). She demonstrates the initiative to take on leadership roles and is quick to identify opportunities and digs in to take action. She has gotten great experience working in the Alumni Association with the Minnesota Alumni Market and even started her own business selling watercolor paintings.
Pei Jet Teh – GEMS Leadership & Diversity Award
Pei is a junior majoring in retail merchandising and product design. She has worked on many projects including the Coach x Windows Wear Internship competition where she was a top 10 finalist and invited to visit Coach Headquarters in NYC. In addition, she is the president of the Malaysian Student Association where she has worked with other Asian clubs on campus to promote the culture through educational activities and fundraising events. She is currently redesigning a portable first aid kit, which could potentially benefit emergency situations.
Olivia Rein – 3M Student Leadership Award
Olivia is a sophomore majoring in retail merchandising and is the president of the Retail Merchandising Student Leadership Board and NRFSA. She was selected as the National Retail Federation (NRF) Student Ambassador and the 2019 NRF Rising Star scholarship winner for the University of Minnesota.
Annie Skogen – The Creative Partners Group Student Leadership Award
Annie is a junior majoring in retail merchandising. Annie is involved in numerous clubs and organizations on campus, works in the College of Design Dean’s office, and has held various internships in the retail industry. As the chapter president in her sorority, she has helped to lead her chapter through the pandemic, and she is working with members to create a more inclusive and equitable environment for all current and potential members.
Kerstin Wetterstrom – Carousel Motor Group Student Leadership Award
Kerstin is a senior majoring in retail merchandising and is a member of the Retail Merchandising Student Leadership Board and NRFSA. Kerstin has many years of experience working for The Gap, Lululemon, and interning at Portu Sunberg. She received the NRF Rising Star Scholarship her freshman year and has taken on many leadership roles in the program since. This semester she is working on a handful of projects which include creating a new marketing strategy for a known product and researching the impact COVID-19 has had on e-commerce.
At the onset of planning for Retail Connect 2020, event organizers thought their largest obstacle would be overhauling the event’s brand—then the pandemic hit followed swiftly by the killing of George Floyd.
On December 3, students, faculty, and staff celebrated the official opening of the new Center for Retail Design and Innovation (CRDI).
This Thursday, students and industry professionals will gather for the College of Design’s annual event, Retail Connect. This year’s event will focus specifically on entrepreneurship and the role entrepreneurs play in our global economy.