Posted on: June 11, 2018
By: Bryony Wardell, email@example.com
In honor of his mentors and his alma mater, Rasheed Muhammad and his wife, Regina, have established The Yahya Muhammad Endowed Scholarship Fund, named after Muhammad's father. Muhammad is a 1995 alumnus of the University of South Carolina’s retail management program, and his fund will provide scholarships for UofSC students majoring in retailing.
Growing up as a young boy in New Jersey, Muhammad often spent Saturdays sitting at the counter of his father’s seafood market. His father would bring his son to work with him—teaching him the art of customer service and entrepreneurship at a young age.
“It sounds funny now, but I have vivid memories of sitting at that counter, maybe five years old, and my job was to ring the bell every time a new customer came in,” he recalls happily. “I couldn’t wait for that next customer to come in so I could ring the bell.”
Today, Muhammad is senior vice president of the Sports and Entertainment Specialty Group for SunTrust Bank Private Wealth Management. He forged his career path through innovation, intuition and hard work, but he credits the support and lessons of mentors who helped him find his way and realize his full potential.
“My father, as long as I can remember, always owned a business. He was a serial entrepreneur and he told me, ‘Son, if you have a job in sales you will never be unemployed,’” said Muhammad. “He made me who I am. Wanting to be a self-made person is from him.”
In addition to Muhammad’s father, the scholarship honors retired faculty member Katherine “Kitty” Strickland. Strickland launched the fashion merchandising program at UofSC and had a profound impact on Muhammad. She took pride in helping students find internships and build the foundations of their careers, and stays in touch with many of her former students still today after retiring in 2006.
“Kitty was one of my favorite teachers. She called me after class one day and told me, ‘You have an uncanny ability to think outside the box and operate on the edge. You are a strategic thinker and you know how to be efficient in your pursuits,’” Muhammad remembers clearly. “Those words really impacted me and empowered me to speak more freely and feel confident about my ideas. We formed an incredible bond after that day.”
Muhammad began his career following a somewhat traditional path for a retailing major. He landed an internship with Rich’s department store while still in school, and completed the company’s executive training program before moving to Atlanta for a full-time management role with the company.
While living in Atlanta, he saw a job opportunity for a retail position with a bank.
“I thought, ‘Hmmm, that’s interesting,’” he says. “It’s financial services, but it’s still retail. It’s sales—you just have to learn and love the product.”
Kitty made me believe that I could make my own destiny; that I could look at any job description, reshape it, achieve the goal, and keep soaring.
—Rasheed Muhammad, '95, Retailing
From there, Muhammad’s financial advising career took off. A musician at heart, he went on to merge his passion for music into his role—launching a new specialty group focused on serving clients in the sport and entertainment sector. He built a strong client roster in Atlanta, and moved to Los Angeles three years ago to expand the company’s West Coast branch.
"When I was in school I thought my career needed to follow a prescribed pattern. I believed it needed to be chronological and follow a typical progression," says Muhammad. "Kitty made me believe that I could make my own destiny; that I could look at any job description, reshape it, achieve the goal, and keep soaring. I had the fortunate opportunity to marry my singing hobby and professional entertainment interests with a pliable career in finance. It all came together."
The Department of Retailing is part of USC’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management and is one of the few departments in the country to offer areas of concentration in both retail management and fashion merchandising. The retailing degree program has seen record growth in recent years as it has added new technology partnerships to focus on ecommerce and logistics management.
"I am in a great position to give back, and I wanted to honor my dad, who turns 86 years old this year. And, Kitty too. I wanted them to know what they mean to me," said Muhammad. "The program has grown a lot since I was there. My job is essentially retail, providing financial services and advice to entertainers, athletes, and executives across the country. I feel that my career embodies what this college is, and I want this scholarship to grow and help students for years to come the way my mentors have helped me."
If you would like to support the College of HRSM, please visit: sc.edu/giving/givenow/education/137
To learn more about individual scholarship opportunities within HRSM,
contact: HRSM Director of Development Catherine Wiggins, firstname.lastname@example.org.