Future Leaders in the Independent Grocery Industry Receive NGA Foundation Scholarships

October 13, 2021

20 students planning careers in the grocery industry receive scholarships, enhancing their education opportunities

Washington D.C. – The NGA Foundation, the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association, announced today its 2021 scholarship recipients for students planning careers in the grocery industry. Scholarships are provided through the generosity of donors and affiliate groups.  

“One of the NGA Foundation’s priorities is to position the independent supermarket industry as a preferred employer for college students and these scholarships will enable recipients to pursue their dreams, which will strengthen our industry for years to come,” said Maggie White, director of the NGA Foundation. “As always, I appreciate the contributions of our members that help make this program possible. Over the last year, our industry has changed drastically, with grocers working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The landscape has changed forever, and it’s never been more important to invest in our future, establishing a workforce that will lead us to a prosperous future.” 

Students may apply for scholarships starting each January until the deadline in April. Scholarships are open to full-time enrolled college and post-graduate students with a minimum 2.5 GPA who plan to pursue a career in the independent grocery industry. NGA Foundation scholarships are merit based, although financial need is taken into consideration. Scholarships are managed by the NGA Foundation and selected by independent committees of reviewers. 

Learn more about this year’s scholarship recipients below:  

Asparagus Club ($2,000) 

Nathanael Bunge, Iowa State University 

“I will be able to focus on absorbing all I can in school without needing to worry about making ends meet. I am honored to receive this scholarship from an industry I am passionate about and can’t wait to keep working in!” 

Dea Closson, Syracuse University 

“For me, winning this scholarship means that someone else believes in my goals. Knowing that industry leaders support my educational and subsequent professional journey is an honor and a privilege. Graduate school is a big step towards actualizing my dreams and having this kind of support means the world to me.” 

Benjamin Famiano, Western Michigan University 

Benjamin is a junior double majoring in Food and CPG Marketing and Leadership and Business Strategy at Western Michigan University. He is a member of the Food Marketing Association, design director for the Business Influencer’s Organization, and director of marketing for the Business Association of Mentors. He currently works in the Bronco Study Zone as a peer mentor, working with fellow students on skills that can be used to succeed. 

Katie Hogan, Arizona State University 

Katie is currently a student at Arizona State University, where she is pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the Food Industry Management Program. “Through my experience as a retail grocery store director, trainer and facilitator, I have mentored, trained and developed thousands of employees over my 28-year career with Safeway,” Katie said. “My goal is to be promoted to District Manager upon graduation.”   

Katheryn Post, Iowa State University 

“Winning this scholarship means that I will be one step further into a more financially secure future. It lessens the stress of having to pay bills and worry about if I have enough money.” 

Matthew Wyand, Western Michigan University 

Matthew is currently a junior studying Food and Consumer Packaged Goods Marketing at Western Michigan University. He recently worked at Hy-Vee in Des Moines, Iowa, as a merchandising intern. “Winning this scholarship shows me that all my hard work and passion for the CPG industry is paying off,” he said. “Receiving this scholarship also shows me that the Grocery industry is an excellent choice for a career.” 

Charlie Bray Legacy Scholarship ($2,500) 

Jared Earley, Emerson College 

Jared is a 20-year marketing veteran specializing in food and beverage retail with nearly ten years of experience serving the grocery industry. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in digital marketing and data analytics at Emerson University, with the intent to forward his career with Eddie’s of Roland Park, an independent, family-owned grocery store in Baltimore, Md. 

Della Noce Family Diversity Scholarship ($1,500) 

Oforiwaa Pee Agyei-Boakye 

“This scholarship will equip me to engage in my work while providing me with opportunities to explore areas in the grocery industry. It will deepen my knowledge in the independent grocery industry, particularly sharpening my understanding of the forces shaping transportation accessibility and supply chain distribution in the independent grocery industry.” 

FMS Solutions Holdings Legacy ($3,000) 

Julia Dietz, Harford Community College 

“It is truly an honor to receive this award. Furthermore, it will significantly help me financially in my schooling and as I am currently studying at Harford Community College, I feel grateful for such massive support. Moreover, this award will definitely help lift the financial burden of my education.” 

Hanna McGrath, Tarleton State University 

“Even though I am not completely sure what type of business I want to enter, I know that I am one step closer to achieving my goals I have set, with this scholarship. With this scholarship, I am one step closer to having a successful career that I can be proud to say I worked hard to achieve. I am eternally grateful to the NGA Foundation for giving me this opportunity to help change the world as we see it.” 

David “Clark” Roper Jr., University of Alabama 

“I am truly humbled to be selected for this scholarship. I have always dreamed of getting my MBA, and over the course of the last year and a half my family has graciously supported me in that pursuit. To be able to share the news with them that others are joining with them to support me means the world. We are incredibly thankful, overcome with joy and inspired to steward this gift the best we can by finishing the program strong.” 

Ashleigh Gay, Eastern Oklahoma State College 

“This scholarship will allow me to continue my career path of Agricultural Communications. I want to be a spokesperson for an ag business after graduation, so winning this scholarship and representing NGF will help jumpstart my career.” 

Kimberly-Clark Legacy Scholarship ($2,500) 

Kyla Reel, Highland Community College 

“Receiving the Kimberly-Clark Legacy scholarship will significantly improve my life as I continue my education. This scholarship will allow me to finance my education while focusing on my studies. I am incredibly grateful for being awarded this scholarship.” 

Mondelēz International Scholarship ($2,500) 

Kayla Leland, Washington State University 

Kayla Leland is currently a cashier and pharmacy intern with Rosauers Supermarkets in Spokane, Wash. She is in her third year of pharmacy school at Washington State University where she is studying to obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. “My goal is to become a pharmacist in the independent retail setting and promote the value of supporting the grocery industry,” she said. “I am very grateful to the NGA Foundation for what the organization stands for and all their work in supporting future leaders in this setting.” 

Peter and Jody Larkin Legacy Scholarship ($2,500) 

Alena Marovitz, Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management 

“I am humbled to receive the Peter and Jody Larkin Legacy Scholarship from the National Grocers Association. Peter made impressive contributions during his time as the president and CEO of NGA, and I am grateful for his continued support of young individuals like me who are hoping to launch a career in the grocery sector.” 

Roger Collins Leadership Scholarship ($1,000) 

Rachel Goldstein, University of Pennsylvania 

“I am so excited to receive this scholarship. It will help me so much in my efforts to pursue my education. I cannot thank the NGA enough for their continued support of my academic endeavors!” 

WGA Mary Macey Scholarship ($1,500) 

Julia Megson, Dartmouth University (Tuck) 

“This scholarship allows me to strengthen my focus on working with early-stage food and grocery companies, instead of prioritizing cost recuperation post-MBA.” 

Claire Lentsch, University of Minnesota Twin Cities 

“Being awarded this scholarship means that I will be able to complete my last semester in confidence. This generous gift will allow me to focus on my passion within the food industry while lifting others up in their own endeavors. I am excited to continue my education and explore the opportunities ahead. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.” 

Bob Richardson Legacy ($1,000) 

Grace Vitek, University of Missouri in Columbia 

Grace Vitek is a freshman at University of Missouri in Columbia studying food science and nutrition. She is very passionate about teaching people to live a healthy lifestyle and hopes to one day become a dietician.  


About the Asparagus Club 

The Asparagus Club was founded in 1909 as a group bound together by ties of friendship and mutual interest of cooperation and fellowship among members of the independent grocery industry. The name Asparagus Club was selected for the group to symbolize the concept that one single tip of asparagus standing alone would fall, but when tied together in a bunch could stand upright. 

About the NGA Foundation 

The NGA Foundation is the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association. The Foundation provides independent retailers with tools to develop more effective recruiting programs, enhance retention efforts and bolster professional leadership development opportunities for employers. 

The NGA Foundation seeks to position the grocery industry as an employer of choice for college students and is committed to supporting students planning careers with independent grocers. Since 1990, NGA and its affiliates have awarded more than $1 million in scholarships providing the critical resources needed to invest in our future leaders. 

For more information, visit www.ngafoundation.org/scholarships 

About NGA 

NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale community grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent grocery sector is accountable for about 1.2 percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating more than $250 billion in sales, 1.1 million jobs, $39 billion in wages and $36 billion in taxes. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers located in every congressional district across the country, as well as state grocers’ associations, manufacturers and service suppliers. For more information about NGA, visit www.nationalgrocers.org.