FACS student named finalist for Next Generation Scholarship

December 10th, 2015 Author: Cal Powell  |  706-542-3536  |  More about Cal
Contact: Clair McClure  |  706-542-8447  | More about Clair

FACS student Ashley Biscan has been named one of five finalists in the National Retail Federation’s Next Generation Scholarship program.

The finalists will interview with a panel of executive judges to determine the four $10,000 scholarship recipients and the top $25,000 recipient.

The winner will be revealed on stage in front of hundreds of retail CEOs and insiders at the NRF Foundation Gala in New York on Jan. 17.

“The hard work and passion that we see from students each and every day is a clear indicator that these motivated young leaders are already well on their way to shaping retail’s future,” NRF Senior Vice President and NRF Foundation Executive Director Ellen Davis said. “All of the applicants for the Next Generation Scholarship exhibit the enthusiasm and eagerness we look for when awarding our scholarships. We are positive the retail industry will benefit greatly from the energy and inspiration that all of the scholarship recipients offer, and we look forward to seeing great things from them in the years to come.”

Fellow FACS student Camille Nzengung has been named one of 20 semifinalists and will receive a $1,500 travel scholarship to cover fees, meals and transportation to the gala as well as the 2016 Retail’s BIG Show Student Program, where students will meet with recruiters and executives from the fashion industry. 

Hundreds of students are expected to attend Retail’s BIG Show Student Program on Janu. 15-16, which puts students in a room with executives behind the retail industry’s most popular brands such as Nike, Blue Mercury, Williams-Sonoma Inc. and HSNi.

Students will learn to leverage their networks to advance their careers and hear from retail recruiters offering opportunities for internships, training programs and entry-level career positions. To see the full press release from the NRF, click here.

Biscan, a fashion merchandising and magazine journalism major, researched consumer awareness and interaction as part of her scholarship application retail timeline. 

To view Biscan’s website, click here.

What was your reaction to hearing the news of the scholarship announcement that you were a semifinalist?

It was within the first few weeks of school that I was notified about my nomination to represent UGA in this scholastic competition. I was honored that Dr. Hunt-Hurst saw me as a suitable candidate.

I had worked diligently compiling and fine tuning my project, so I was both proud and relieved to submit my work. Then the waiting game began, and it came as a surprise to see an email in my inbox from the NRF so soon.  I scrolled down the list of semifinalists, suppressing my excitement until there it was ... MY NAME!  

I let out a big sigh of relief and a smile beamed across my face.  The work had paid off!  I shared the news with my parents soon after, and they were thrilled as well.  I am looking forward to networking, gaining insight into the retail industry and basking in the beauty of what I anticipate will be a spectacular gala on Chelsea Piers.  

New York City takes the cake as my favorite city in the world.  It is a place of endless inspiration and success, so I am overjoyed that I have an invitation - for the night, not merely a tourist, rather a special guest.  Because New York City is the place I aim to call home upon graduation, I am so grateful to have the chance to plant the seeds for what I hope to be a fruitful career that combines journalism and fashion retail.    

How/why did you settle on your project idea?

I was thrilled at the possibility of attending the NRF gala/convention in New York City, so I put my whole heart into the project.  “I need to make it in that top 25,” I kept telling myself!  I used that drive to remain focused and avoid complacency.  Throughout my project, I asked myself “what can I do differently, what would be unexpected, how do I raise the bar?”

I am constantly observing, so I drew inspiration from the world around me and from my fashion and textile class discussions.  I arrived at the theme “Consumer Awareness and Interaction.”  As I state in my project, “Today’s astute consumers are invested in more than what meets the eye.  Over time, new developments have made information more readily available to the public, turning the world of retail on its axis and stimulating progress.”  I wanted to really speak to the zeitgeist of the millennial generation visually, analytically and editorially.  

What are your goals for the project and what did you learn throughout the process of researching it?

I stayed true to myself throughout the project. As a magazine journalism major and fashion merchandising minor, I worked to combine my love of both academic avenues.  My goal was for the judging panel to review my work and feel like they’d spent an hour talking to me in person.  I strived to convey my voice through my resume, essay, portfolio and digital retail timeline.  

I would love to see my original images from the digital retail timeline used in promotions for the NRF. I will also add this project to my portfolio for future employers and ambitious students to view as well.  I would like to give a special thank you to Dr. Hunt-Hurst and Allison Mitchell, editor-in-chief of JEZEBEL magazine, for their reference letters.  I’d also like to thank Clair McClure, graduate teaching assistant, for her encouragement throughout my production process.  

Nzengung is a third-year fashion merchandising major from Watkinsville and a member of Phi Upsilon Omicron and Little Red Book who aspires to work in the fashion industry.

As part of her scholarship application, Nzengung researched the issue of digitally-altered photos within the fashion and retail industry.  Her project, called “The Anti-Photoshop Movement,” can be found here.

What was your reaction to hearing the news of the scholarship announcement that you were a semifinalist?

“I was beyond excited. I seriously couldn’t believe it. I’m just so happy that I got picked out of all the other candidates that entered in the scholarship competition and I think it’s pretty cool that both Ashley and I made it!” 

How and why did you settle on your project idea?

It was not easy picking an idea for my retail timeline. I actually had a list of about five different possible themes which I then narrowed down to two ideas. It was with the help of my advisor, Clair McClure, that I was finally able to settle down on doing my timeline on the anti-Photoshop movement going on in retail. She really helped me to see that it was the stronger idea of the two.

What are your goals for the project and what did you learn throughout the process of researching it?

My goal for the project was to show my perspective on where I see the retail industry going. I’m really fascinated by the recent surge in body positivity that we’ve been seeing in the retail and fashion industry and I think the push against the use of Photoshop is directly related to that. With so many events going on in retail related to my project idea, it was cool being able to curate my timeline to reflect the ones that I viewed as being most important.

Throughout the process of researching the anti-Photoshop movement, I learned just how prevalent the use of Photoshop is in the retail industry and how its usage in fashion advertisements is negatively affecting consumers’ self-image. Overly Photoshopped images present unrealistic beauty standards to consumers, especially women. I think retailers are now becoming more aware of their advertising approaches and many are starting to rethink their approach.

Categories: Textiles, Merchandising and InteriorsUndergraduateFashion Merchandising
Tags: retail, nrf, next generation scholarship, national retail federation, big show

In this category: Fashion Merchandising