Taking a chance

In just four years, St. Louis, Missouri, native and first-generation college student S’Riyyah DeBose transformed from an unsure high schooler to a future full-time employee of FritoLay.

May 6, 2024
Contact: Courtney Perrett, cperrett@missouri.edu

S’Riyyah DeBose has certainly made a name for herself during her time at the University of Missouri. But if you asked her five years ago what the future held, the idea of becoming a Mizzou Tiger — much less a Tiger with a college degree — likely would have shocked her.

Initially, DeBose wasn’t even sure she was going to go to college. That is, until Mizzou came knocking. With support from her family and a scholarship from the university, DeBose took full advantage of the opportunity to pursue her educational aspirations.

The St. Louis, Missouri, native will graduate this week with a bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing and a minor in entrepreneurship. She'll then head to Chicago to work as a district sales leader with Pepsi-FritoLay.

Read on for a Q&A with DeBose about her Mizzou experience.

Why did you choose Mizzou?

I always say that Mizzou chose me. It was not really on my list as far as college, but I got an email asking me to apply, and I ended up getting a scholarship. I looked at the campus and did some history on Mizzou, and I thought, why not give it a shot? Mizzou helped me by offering a lot of support financially. My freshman year, I applied for so many scholarships and grants, and most of them have been through Mizzou and the programs that I've joined.

I wasn’t sure about attending college, but another part of me really wanted to extend my knowledge and my education. College was always somewhere where I thought I could find myself and find that freedom that I have always longed for. Making it to Mizzou was a blessing.

Who have been your biggest influences at Mizzou?

Professor Mary Beth Marrs motivated me and inspired me to go further. She told me that I had a charm about me, and that motivated me to continue on with business. I'm not super analytical, but I often do have a vision, and I like to execute my vision. She was a pioneer for starting my professional journey.

Erika Aaron, the assistant vice chancellor for inclusive engagement and constituent relations for the Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, also instilled a lot of confidence and ambition in me. Then there's Lindsay Hing, my DECA advisor. As a freshman in 2020, I met with her for coffee, and she was very informative and educational. I have learned so much from her.

How does it feel to be a first-generation college student knowing that you're about to graduate?

It feels amazing. There were a lot of times when I did not think I was going to make it. But the strength of knowing my family believed in me and in the difference I could make in the world really helped me. Being a first-generation student helped me keep up the momentum for school. It feels awesome to be able to say that I'm the first one in my family to do so.

What is next for you after graduation?

After I graduate, I will be moving to Chicago to work as a district sales leader with Pepsi-FritoLay.

I got an internship with them last summer through one of the student organizations I am involved in — FritoLay brought in a speaker from Pepsi who told us about their internship opportunities. I originally missed the deadline because I wasn't sure if I was going to do it, but I was able to reach out on LinkedIn and tell them what I wanted to do for Pepsi. I went to Springfield to fulfill that internship role, and after that they offered me the full-time position at the end of my internship in August. I am very excited to get started and continue making an impact on the company.

Story written by Audrey Brown

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