Allen Access: pushing boundaries forward

S’Riyyah DeBose
Trulaske senior S’Riyyah DeBose says an Allen Access Program scholarship has given her confidence in herself and afforded her time to focus on her studies and extracurricular pursuits, like the Diverse Student Association, of which she is president. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

Published on Show Me Mizzou Jan. 10, 2024

As a St. Louis high school student, S’Riyyah DeBose knew that she wanted to start her own business someday. She knew that the Trulaske College of Business at the University of Missouri would provide a strong path toward that goal. But as a young Black woman, she was also looking for a school that valued diversity and empowered students from all backgrounds to share their points of view. “When you go out into the world, you’re not just encountering people who look like you,” she says. “You need to learn how to navigate and be comfortable in those environments.”

At Mizzou, DeBose found that and more through the Allen Access Program, a new initiative to break down barriers and promote readiness and success for business students who don’t have the necessary resources. 

In 2021, longtime MU financial supporter Pinney Allen; her husband, Charles “Buddy” Miller III; and her brother, Trulaske alum and faculty member W.D Allen, BS BA ’90, PhD ’06, pledged $5 million to provide scholarships, equipment and support for business students who are resourceful with limited means. The program includes the Allen Access Fund, which covers things like professional attire for job interviews, ACT and SAT prep courses, housing for internships, and travel for school programs. The Allen Access Scholarships go toward tuition and are renewable annually in amounts ranging from $3,000 to $10,000. 

Entering her junior year, DeBose was chosen to receive a scholarship that covered three-fourths of the tuition that she had been struggling to pay for herself through work, loans and grants. But the award did much more than that for her. She says it gave her time to focus on her studies and extracurricular pursuits, like the Diverse Student Association, of which she is president. It also gave her access to other scholars and mentors, including lunches with W.D and Pinney Allen. More than anything, it’s given DeBose confidence in herself, her abilities and her career path and motivated her to pursue her goals with that much more vigor.

DeBose says the award and the program have elevated her and her fellow recipients as examples for incoming students. “I lacked a lot of confidence in my own abilities,” she says. “This ignited something in me, made me unafraid to speak up for myself and provided me with the passion to go out and network. Half of business is who you know, and I’ve met a lot of key people through the Allen Access Program.”

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