Rising senior awarded coveted $10,000 national scholarship

Contact: Cindy Wagner
Photo of Rachel Larson.


KALAMAZOO—A Western Michigan University student is the recipient of a $10,000 national scholarship awarded by the Industrial Supply Association.

Rachel Larson of Macomb, an integrated supply management and computer information systems major, was selected to receive the 2017-18 Gary L. Buffington Memorial Scholarship, awarded each year to a rising senior in a qualified undergraduate industrial distribution program that exhibits industry relevance and mentorship. She will receive her award April 14 at the ISA's national convention in Denver.

Credits Bronco Force

"In addition to my coursework success, I think my experience with Bronco Force helped me stand out to the selection committee," says Larson. WMU's Bronco Force initiative offers applied supply chain solutions to industry clients. The program is designed to address real-life difficulties that supply chain managers face and engage students and faculty in determining the best methods to solve problems in the workplace. Larson, who started with Bronco Force as a sophomore volunteer, now leads a $14 million project encompassing the areas of material flow, quality, logistics and operations.

As part of the scholarship interview process, Larson was asked to discuss important emerging technologies. She predicted that "Amazon.com will start to recede from the oversaturated, traditional ground delivery service with plans for a warehouse blimp where drones would be deployed for delivery and advertisement." She also cited the importance of data analytics for business. "Data analytics serves as a communication tool for each employee in a company, operator to executive to see a clear vision for the company."

Rachel Larson

Larson, who plans to graduate in May 2018, hopes to begin her career in industrial distribution by progressing through all aspects of an organization, from sales to operations and eventually management. She is the executive director of member relations and recruitment for WMU's chapter of APICS, an association for supply chain professionals, and vice president of the student honor society Alpha Lambda Delta. Both organizations have provided opportunities for Larson to mentor younger students. 

"Rachel commands a lot of respect and is always willing to go above and beyond to achieve success in her field." says Dr. Sime Curkovic, professor of integrated supply management. "She is an important representative for our program and regularly meets with our new students to serve as a mentor and with our employers to serve as an ambassador for our program."

In addition to the scholarship, Larson will have the opportunity for professional development as part of the scholarship program. She will attend the ISA Convention in April, where she will network with approximately 1,500 manufacturers, distributors, manufacturer representatives and service providers and have the opportunity to attend sessions.

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