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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

Marissa De La Cruz

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Marissa De La Cruz

Marissa De La Cruz, area manager at Mattress Firm, is pursuing an MBA from University of Phoenix.

Big dreamers don’t take any challenge lying down

But for Marissa De La Cruz, lying down is exactly what her dreams are made of. As the store manager for Mattress Firm in San Antonio, Texas, Marissa was responsible for daily store execution, meeting monthly budgets and putting her store above the competition. But impacting people is her true passion. “This is what I enjoy most about my job, when you have a real opportunity to change people’s lives,” she says.

To this day, my father still inspires me to continue growing in my career and as an individual
Marissa De La Cruz

But her dream doesn’t stop at the showroom floor. She hopes to ultimately become a project manager for Mattress Firm and have an even greater impact on the job and company she loves so much. By her own admission, Marissa is always ready to take on a good challenge. Whether it’s from managers, customers, budgets or her own personal goals, she believes each is an opportunity to learn how to do things better. With an MBA thanks to a Dream BIG scholarship from University of Phoenix and the NRF Foundation, she knows that she can make changes for the better — for her store, her company and her life.

A strong communicator, Marissa has led company initiatives, represented Mattress Firm in charity events and trained new hires. She admits her three years on the sales floor have taught her more than all four years of college (just don’t tell her professors). However, it is this learning that she feels will complement the business knowledge that University of Phoenix can provide.

Today, she credits her father for her drive and ambition. A man from very humble beginnings, he wanted a better life for his family and did whatever it took to make it happen. “To this day, my father still inspires me to continue growing in my career and as an individual,” Marissa explains. “Because of him, I sincerely believe I can go as far as I want in life.”


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.