STUDENT SUCCESS STORIES: There is a Future in Food Empowering Students, Shaping Perspectives

May 19, 2020

Samantha McGrath

Western Michigan University, Class of 2020

I am a graduate of Western Michigan University, with my BBA in food and consumer packaged goods marketing, and a three-time participant in NGA’s Student Case Study Competition, mentorship groups and WGA Fun Run, and a recipient of the generous Asparagus Club Scholarship.

I entered college knowing I wanted to pursue a career in food. I have a passion for the grocery industry and a background in category management, retail merchandising, data analytics and customer development through a variety of opportunities within the courses and internships I’ve had over the years.

I was able to put what I learned into action by being involved with the National Grocers Association for the past three years. I built on the skills and knowledge I gained from the classroom by participating in the case study competition. This is where I was able to grow my knowledge and understanding by getting live feedback on our ideas for a variety of real-world topics that affect how independent grocers operate on a daily basis. Being surrounded by industry experts was incredible; every time I attended The NGA Show, I was able to have a greater understanding of the factors that impact retailers.

Speaking to this past year’s case study competition, which focused on Buehler’s in Ohio, our team presented strategies and tactics on how to increase awareness, use and engagement in SNAP/GusSNIP and produce perks programs. This allowed me to dive deep into learning about food insecurity and how government programs work, as well as the implications and struggles that consumers face when trying to understand and utilize them.

Through our diligent research, WMU’s team was able to receive first place in this year’s competition. I remember the moment we heard we advanced to the finals: Our team was watching the Best Bagger Competition and my professor checked his phone and shared the news with our team. That moment was definitely a highlight of my senior year. I am proud of how far our team had come and it was gratifying to hear how the judges believed our ideas and insights that we provided could be implemented. I hadn’t realized how much of an impact a student could have on helping to solve a real-life problem.

I appreciate how it empowers students to be a part of the industry early on before their careers. The experience goes beyond a resume builder; it helped to shape the perspective I have of the industry and I am so grateful to have been part of this experience.

Thank you, NGA, for making this possible – you made a difference in my life.