For Second Consecutive Year, a Columbia Student Wins NRF Foundation's Next Generation Award

Robert Davison Long wins the 2022 NRF Foundation’s Next Generation Award and two Columbia teams place in the NRF Student Challenge, earning students scholarships and making Columbia the most winning institution at this year’s NRF Foundation’s Honors.

Columbia College Chicago is proud to announce that Columbia junior Robert Davison Long has won the 2022 National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation Next Generation Award. This is the second year in a row that a Columbia student has received this honor. The announcement was made at an National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation Honors event held on April 13 in New York. Also recognized were two Columbia teams who competed for the NRF Foundation Student Challenge: Team OXBOW, which came in second, and Team GenYou, which placed third. Long and these two teams were joined in New York by 2021 NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship Winner Amaiya Sims, who was  unable to travel to New York last year due to the COVID pandemic.

The NRF Foundation Next Generation Award is the highest honor that the NRF Foundation bestows upon a student and recognizes the winner as an emerging leader in retail. It also features a top scholarship award of $25,000.

“Hearing Robert Davison Long’s name as the winner of the $25,000 NRF Next Generation Scholarship reinforces what I’ve known for more than a year—Robert is a true retail leader and has been recognized as such by the NRF and retail executives. From the moment I met Robert during Zoom classes, he was a standout.  When so many cringe and run from the very word, 'retail,' Robert runs to it. He embraces everything about retail,” says  Dana Connell, an associate professor in Fashion Studies. “Whether he is selling Coach or researching and imagining private label sparkling water for Meijer, he applies his retail business knowledge in a way that resonates with the people he serves. All who meet Robert appreciate his engaging smile, wit and compassion. These are the qualities of a professional who we will no doubt be hearing from as a future retail leader. We are especially grateful for the tremendous support from the NRF Foundation and their partners who make these scholarships possible.” 

The 2022 NRF Foundation Student Challenge tasked teams of students with developing a new private label brand for Kohl’s that embodies the meaning of diversity and promotes equity and inclusion. This year Columbia's teams represented three departments: Fashion Studies, Communication, and Cinema and Television Arts at Columbia. As second place winners, each member of Team OXBOW received a $2,500 scholarship, and each member of Team GenYou received a $1,500 scholarship. Team OXBOW included Karolina Blachowska, Vanesa Iris Paramo, Ethan Partington, and Ansley Young; Team GenYou included Rachel Baranowski, Ella Bondy, Rosa Francesca Terenzio, and Riley Thorpe.

"I’m so incredibly proud of all our students who have participated in the National Retail Foundation's competitions. I love how they've worked, as they will professionally, as interdisciplinary teams working across majors together as successful creative units—together,” says Peg Murphy, an associate professor in the Communication Department. “Many thanks to the Columbia administration for encouraging students and faculty to pursue opportunities like these and a very big thank you to the NRF Foundation and their amazing retail sponsors for making this all happen. It’s great to be associated with national retail leadership at its finest!"

As for Davison, his winning experience allowed him to fuse what he has learned at Columbia and apply it to the real world of retail. “The NRF Next Generation Scholarship has pushed me and allowed me to reach into myself, and fully and with more intent engage and explore facets in retail.”

Columbia was the most winning institution of the 2022 NRF Foundation Honors. Congratulations to all the winners!