Kent State Fashion Merchandising Student Awarded $10,000 Next Generation Scholarship at NRF Awards in NYC

Lauren-Ashley Solomon posing at the NRF Foundation Gala.Kent State University Fashion School senior merchandising student, Lauren-Ashley Solomon, was a top five finalist for the coveted National Retail Federation Next Generation Scholarship and received a $10,000 scholarship at the NRF Awards Conference and Galal held in New York City in January.


Every year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) offers five different types of scholarships to the next generation of retail leaders. One of the scholarships, the Next Generation Scholarship, offers awards of up to $25,000 to students who are currently pursuing careers in retail or a major relevant to retail. The scholarship offers students the chance to experience special events held in conjunction with NRF’s annual convention the “Big Show”. In order to be considered, each applicant must submit an essay, a written project, a resume, two letters of recommendation and include a personal brand video.


This year, 103 applicants from 41 different schools applied for a chance to receive one of four $10,000 scholarships and the top $25,000 scholarship. Solomon landed in the top five and secured a $10,000 scholarship to be put towards her academic career.  


In addition to Solomon, two other Kent Fashion School students received NRF awards. Student Emily Kopchak was announced as the NRF Student Ambassador winner and will serve as the Kent State campus representative throughout the academic year, serving as the liaison between the NRF and Kent State. Additionally, student Josh Hoffman was the recipient of the Rising Star Scholarship and received a $1,500 stipend to attend the annual convention in NYC. In total, 21 Kent students, along with Fashion School director Dr. Kim Hahn and assistant professor Dr. Rachel LoMonaco-Benzing, attended the event and networked with top retail professionals and executives in the industry. 


KSU Students at 2019 NRF Gala


"Attending the NRF Student Program and Gala was amazing! The career advice that I received from the speakers who were successful entrepreneurs and executives of major companies is what made the experience so unique and I felt so honored to be able to network with them," said Solomon. "I am extremely blessed to have the won the $10,000 Next Generation Scholarship. I never would have imagined winning that much money at this point in my career. I worked so hard on my application and case study for the scholarship so it was so rewarding to see that hard work pay off."


Solomon was inspired to go into fashion because it allowed her to show off her personality and creative side which helped her gain confidence when she was growing up. "Clothing did so much for me in my youth and developing my style was a huge part of my life. I learned to let fashion speak through me and I want to help others feel that same impact from fashion."


After graduation, Solomon plans to work in the corporate world for a few years and then hopes to eventually start her own business. Since her NRF experience, she has already been offered several different positions at some fashion's top companies but has not made a final decision. "I want to be able to influence the market for young girls' clothing and help them find their confidence. I have not made a decision on what company I am going to work for after graduation yet, but I am very excited for what is going to come next for me in the world of retail!"



NRF is the world’s largest retail industry trade association, representing retailers from the U.S. and more than 45 countries worldwide. NRF’s purpose is to advance the interests of the retail industry through advocacy, communications, and education. For more information about NRF, please visit their website,



Established in 1983 as the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising at Kent State University, the school was named an Ohio Center of Excellence by the state Board of Regents and is a member institution of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI) and National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).






Photo 1: Lauren-Ashley Solomon posing at the NRF Student Program Gala.

Photo 2: Kent State student attendees attending the NRF Student Program Gala.


Media Contact: Brittani Peterson, marketing associate,, 330-672-2714


POSTED: Sunday, January 27, 2019 - 9:24pm
UPDATED: Monday, February 4, 2019 - 2:31pm