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The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

Dream BIG Class of 2014

Joel Cosme Jr.

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Joel Cosme Jr.

Joel Cosme Jr., customer relations representative at Express, is pursuing an master's degree in psychology from University of Phoenix.

Understanding that retail success starts with the customer

Joel Cosme Jr. dreams big because he cares — for the customers, the employees, the store and the community. As a customer relations representative for Express, Joel handles various customer situations, trains employees and works hard to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction in the store — no matter what issue arises. “I am fascinated by the psychology behind the customer and employee experience,” he explains.

I enjoy conversing with customers, understanding issues from their perspectives and feeling self-assured that I have offered them the best resolution.
Joel Cosme Jr.

He hopes to become a consultant in the retail industry, using his skills to help with training and development of retail employees in order to improve the work environment and, as a result, the customer environment. With the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in psychology, thanks to a Dream BIG scholarship from University of Phoenix and the NRF Foundation, Joel is one step closer.

While understanding the dynamics behind the workplace and customer experience is his primary interest, Joel is fascinated by other aspects of retail as well, including the fashion, innovation and ingenuity of the industry. But as great as those things are, for Joel it always comes back to the customer. “I enjoy conversing with customers, understanding issues from their perspectives and feeling self-assured that I have offered them the best resolution," says Joel. He knows that getting his degree from University of Phoenix will empower him to do what’s right by the customer, as well as the company.

However, beyond the stores and the customers, there’s an integral part of Joel’s life that he draws joy and passion from each and every day — his son. As a happy-go-lucky eight-year-old, Joel’s son is all the inspiration he needs. “Despite and because of his special needs, he has shown me things I was previously blind to,” says the proud father. “He has taught me that there will always be challenges in life, but they should never hinder you from simply being happy.”


The National Retail Federation collaborates with University of Phoenix to offer the Dream BIG Scholarship to people who work in retail. This year, 20 recipients received full-tuition scholarships to help them pursue their big dreams. Meet the Class of 2014 and learn more about the Dream BIG Scholarship.