NGA Foundation Announces 2022 Scholarship Recipients

September 20, 2022

18 students planning careers  in grocery

receive grants to continue education

Washington D.C. – The NGA Foundation, the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association, has announced the recipients of its 2022 scholarship program. This year, 18 students planning careers with independent grocers received scholarships, provided by the generosity of our donors and affiliate groups.

“We are proud to ensure that our industry’s future will be in good hands by assisting these talented individuals in their pursuit of higher education and career goals,” said Chelsea Matzen, NGA Foundation director. “We also applaud our members for their ongoing investment in grocery’s next generation of leaders.”

At the core of the NGA Foundation grants are the Asparagus Club scholarships,  which have been offered by the club since its inception in 1967. The Asparagus Club Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $1 million to students pursuing careers in the independent grocery industry.

Legacy scholarships are awards given in the name of an individual or individuals who contribute directly to the fund each year. These scholarships are designed to acknowledge and continue the legacy of those individuals and organizations and their contribution to the independent grocery industry.

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 and plans 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. Winners are notified in August.

The recipients of the NGA Foundation 2022 scholarships are as follows (click the link in each name for a photo of recipient)

Asparagus Club ($2,000)

Eli Samuels

Samuels is pursuing a degree at Syracuse University. He’s “very excited and honored” to win an Asparagus Club scholarship, which will help him achieve his goal of working at Wegmans Food Markets.

Gregory Cooper

Attending the University of Tennessee at Martin, Cooper said winning an Asparagus Club scholarship “expresses to me that my work in the grocery industry matters.” Happy to be “making a difference in the world,” Cooper is grateful for the ease in financial burden as he continues his education.

Nathan Frank

“Winning this scholarship is a great honor to me,” said this University of California-Berkeley student. “Winning this scholarship means I can complete my undergraduate education with a purpose.” Frank’s career goal is to implement sustainable distribution practices in agriculture.

Zea Juarez-Safran

A student at Penn State Altoona, she started working at her grandfather’s supermarket during the pandemic. It was here she noticed the important role that community-centered grocers play in holding a community together. Juarez-Safran is honored to be “viewed as someone who has potential. … [I]t will make me work harder in school.”

Jack Wold

Wold said receiving this scholarship will allow him to dedicate more time his studies at the University of St. Thomas and be more involved on campus to set himself apart from other marketing majors. “I want to work towards a more sustainable future with things like organic foods and properly sourced ingredients,” Wold said. “Using my marketing degree, I will spread the message of the benefits these bring to the consumer.”

Asparagus Club – Thomas K. Zaucha Award ($2,500)

Adam Meier

A business student at Wisconsin Lutheran College, Meier said receiving this scholarship “validates all the hard work that I have put in over the past four years as both a student and an employee at my local grocery store. … [and] is motivation for me to continue to set goals and work hard. Receiving this award has given me confidence to know that this career path is the right one for me.”

Bob Richardson Legacy Scholarship ($1,000)

Elizabeth Michelle Hart

With six years working in grocery already under her belt, Hart is pursuing a degree from Lakes Region Community College. “This scholarship gives me the freedom to explore all branches of my career interests and find which one is right for me,” she said. “I am able to participate in culinary competitions and even take classes outside my degree curriculum to set myself up to start a business in the future.”

Charlie and Becky Bray Legacy Scholarship ($2,500)

Stephen Paul Stresow

A plant science student at Cornell University, Stresow said his major “highlights the importance of interdisciplinary interests and bringing together both producers and retailers to help make food more accessible to everyone.” Stresow said he hopes the scholarship will help “increase my knowledge of and experience with the grocery industry. … I hope that by being at the intersection of both farming and the grocery industry, the two areas can better align their supply and demand goals, and strengthen local and regional food systems and provide people with nutritious and safe food.”

Della Noce Family Diversity Scholarship ($1,500)

Mary Macey WGA Scholarship ($1,500)

Karla Ash

Ash is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in leadership studies toward a career in executive management. “I am beyond grateful to win this scholarship,” she said. “Being able to attend Cal Poly at Humboldt was a goal that has been made tangible with the help of this scholarship.”

Ecolab Women in Grocery ($2,000)

Courtney Moore

A new first-time mom, this University of Arkansas student is grateful for the boost from this scholarship as she learns how to juggle a full-time career, a family and continuing her education. “Because of this scholarship, I will be able to study and learn more about food safety without having to worry,” said Moore, who works as a food safety auditor for H-E-B. “In order to influence the partners at our stores to follow A+ food safety practices, it’s important to share with them the ‘why’ behind every process and regulation. This degree will give me a more in-depth knowledge of food safety, allowing me to better explain its importance in the stores and allowing me to influence the assessment content itself.”

FMS Solutions Legacy Scholarships ($3,000)

Hailey Granich

“Being selected for this scholarship is an honor, and reinforces my decision to choose this career path,” said Granich, a food marketing major at Western Michigan University. Granich appreciates the financial assistance that is “giving me the freedom to focus on my education and my future … [so] I can focus my time and energy on my career, and find a career path that I am passionate about.”

William Taylor

Taylor plans to complete his last two years at Baylor University as an Information system and supply chain management double major, and seek a grocery transportation/logistics internship. “With the help of this scholarship, I will be one step closer to completing that goal,” he said. “It is an absolute honor accepting this scholarship. … The fact that I’m receiving the scholarship from NGA makes it even more special for me because of how passionate I am about the industry.”

Kimberly Clark Legacy Scholarship ($2,500)

Brianna Smith

Winning this scholarship “means the world to me” to this Pellissippi State Community College student, who appreciated the help toward furthering her education toward a career as a store manager. “This will help me pursue my goal of offering 100 percent of myself back to my community.”

Mondelēz International Legacy Scholarship ($2,500)

Maggie Rose Flaherty

Flaherty is grateful to Mondelēz International and the NGA Foundation for helping her pursue an MBA in food marketing at Saint Joseph’s University “while maintaining my commitment to a career in the food sector.” Flaherty said the scholarship will allow her to gain more industry-specific knowledge “and address my professional aspirations of becoming a female executive in the food industry.” After completing her graduate studies, she said, “I aim to draw on my educational experiences to create and effectuate meaningful changes in the food industry and champion the food sector’s philanthropic endeavors in local communities.”

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

Colby Osner

Osner is pursuing a degree in supply chain management at Kansas State University and is thankful for the award. “For many years, I have worked in many grocery store departments and have been saving my money to pay for school. Talking to and meeting with people working in the grocery sector has always been my favorite way to make connections,” Osner said. “I will continue to learn about organizations that support independent grocery stores and use their ideas and knowledge to enhance the grocery sector I will be employed in.”

Roger Collins Leadership Scholarship ($1,000)

Nisha McDonald

McDonald is a senior at Texas State University who plans to pursue a career in product marketing upon graduating in spring 2023. “Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community,” McDonald said. “I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me. … Thanks to you, I am one step closer to that goal.”

Ronnie Horton Legacy Scholarship ($1,250)

Drew Saluga

Saluga is excited to be able to continue working toward a master’s degree at Youngstown State University as well as further impact and support the family business. “It’s a great feeling to know that NGA believes in me and my ability to have an impact in the grocery business enough to invest in me and my education,” Saluga said. “Earning this scholarship will allow me to better serve the company I work for and the communities we serve.”

Women Grocers of America ($2,500)

Oforiwaa Pee Agyei-Boakye

This student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is grateful for the opportunities the WGA scholarship will provide. “This scholarship will equip me to engage in my work while providing me with opportunities to explore areas in the grocery industry,” she said. “It will deepen my knowledge in the independent grocery industry, particularly sharpening my understanding of the forces shaping transportation accessibility and supply chain distribution.”


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  

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