Student Amaiya Sims Wins NRF Scholarship

Fashion Studies student Amaiya Sims, who will graduate in 2021, won the top scholarship offered by the NRF Next Generation Scholarship Competition.

Columbia College Chicago would like to congratulate Amaiya Sims on being awarded the $25,000 scholarship offered by the NRF Foundation's Next Generation Scholarship. The award, notes the foundation, "is the pinnacle achievement for students interested in pursuing careers in retail. This opportunity was created for students of various academic backgrounds who have demonstrated leadership skills, previous retail experience, and a passion for making an impact." Each year one finalist wins the top award, while four others take home $10,000 tuition scholarships. 

The application process for the scholarship consisted of two phases. In the first phase, Sims submitted an essay, personal brand video, letters of recommendation, her resume, headshot, and school transcripts. Then, in the semi-finalist stage, Sims was asked to complete a case study in collaboration with PetSmart, Inc., and to complete two interviews with assigned retailers. For her case study, Sims created a pitch for PetSmart emphasizing what Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Fashion Studies Dana Connell described as a "calming oasis for pets and their families." Sims was supported in her application by Connell as well as Chair Colbey Reid, Assistant Professor in Fashion Studies Melissa Gamble, and Fashion Studies Instructor Amy Meadows. Sims said of her win, "I am beyond honored to be representing Columbia on this amazing platform, and I am so excited for the opportunities that lay ahead." 

To qualify for the NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship students must be a junior or senior enrolled full-time at a NRF University Member School. You can see the full list of eligibility requirements here. At Columbia, participation in this scholarship competition is not tied to a class--applicants work with Connell one-on-one. The next round of applications will begin in late spring, 2021. You can see the video announcement here. For more information, please contact Dana Connell at








Rhiannon Koehler
Communications Manager