On July 22, the National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation named Stanford student Sophia Maltesen ’15 one of 25 semifinalists for its Ray Greenly Scholarship, which recognizes and supports undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate creativity and entrepreneurial spirit in digital retail.
The scholarship program was founded in 2006 in memory of Ray Greenly, who was the vice president of research and member services at Shop.org.
As a semifinalist, Maltesen will travel to Seattle to attend the 2014 Shop.org Summit from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, where she will have the opportunity to meet various executives in the retail industry. Maltesen will also have the chance to receive one of four $10,000 scholarships or the grand prize of $25,000, to be adjudicated at the Summit at the end of September. The five finalists for the Ray Greenly Scholarship will be announced during the second week of August.
“From digital marketing and e-commerce managers to user-experience designers, social media analysts and engineers, retail offers incredible digital careers to students,” said NRF Foundation Executive Director and Senior Vice President Ellen Davis in a press release by the NRF. “The Ray Greenly Scholarship is one way we are finding and fostering young digital retail talent, which will be hugely important for the future of our industry.”
Judges were very impressed with this year’s recipients, Davis said in an email to the University.
“One of our judges even said he would hire any of the applicants in a heartbeat!” she wrote.
Maltesen and her fellow semifinalists were selected based on essays, letters of recommendation and case study projects in which students designed a new strategy to help customers experience a brand or product. This strategy had to involve a digital component such as an app, an in-store service or social media.
For her project, Maltesen, who is working at Sephora this summer, combined technology with her interest in organic beauty and focused on creating a marketplace for chemical-free and zero-toxicity products.
Executives and professionals from over 30 companies judged the contest. A similar panel will interview finalists at the Shop.org Summit before awarding the five Ray Greenly Scholarships.
“I’m excited to meet a lot of people in the same field that I’m in and hear the speakers,” Maltesen said. “For me, even if I’m not in the top five, it’s completely fine because I’m really interested in the conference.”