MBA Student with Passion for Baking Earns National Grocers Association Scholarship

KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct 16, 2020) — Monique Allen has loved to bake ever since she was 4 years old. After earning two degrees in culinary arts and working in the industry for more than ten years, Allen is now a student in Kennesaw State University’s Master of Business Administration program, where she is pursuing her dream of owning a bakery.

Allen was recently named one of five recipients of the 2020 Asparagus Club scholarship from the National Grocers Association, the industry’s trade group. The scholarship, which provides $2,000 per semester for eight semesters, is awarded annually to students planning careers in the independent grocery industry.

“I'm truly grateful and excited for the experience of being an NGA scholarship recipient,” Allen said. “I look forward to learning more and growing my career within this industry.”

MBA Student and NGA Scholarship Recipient Monique Allen

Since 1967, the NGA Foundation has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships through the Asparagus Club program. Between its 14 scholarship programs, the NGA awarded more than $70,000 to 18 students in 2020.

Allen has worked for Publix Supermarkets since 2018. In August, she was promoted to assistant bakery manager at her store in Norcross, where she has grown the branch’s successful catering business and cooking school. Prior to Publix, she spent nine years as a freelance pastry chef, served as brand ambassadors for multiple food and cooking supply companies, and was formerly a pastry chef instructor for retailer Sur La table.

She has also earned two degrees in the field, including an associate degree in baking and pastry arts from the Art Institute of Atlanta and a bachelor’s degree in culinary sustainability and hospitality management from Kennesaw State University.

For years, Allen’s goal has been to open her own bakery. Realizing that it takes more than being a great chef to run a business, Allen enrolled in the Michael J. Coles College of Business MBA program in 2019.

“I’m grateful to be an MBA student in KSU and I am having an engaging and informative experience,” she said. “I am learning more of the business acumen and the skills that I need to be a more competent and compassionate leader.”

Monique Allen National Black MBA Association ScholarshipThe NGA scholarship is the second award Allen has earned since joining the MBA program. In Fall 2019, she received a scholarship from the Atlanta chapter of the National Black MBA Association, which encourages African Americans to pursue graduate business degrees to create opportunities for professional, personal, and financial growth.

Dennis Marrow, director of MBA programs for Kennesaw State, praised Allen’s achievements.

“In less than a year, two major national organizations have recognized Monique for her drive, her skills inside and outside of the classroom, and her undeniable potential,” Marrow said. “We are honored to have students like Monique – who can genuinely align personal and professional goals – as part of our MBA family.”

Allen traces her love of cooking back to when she was 4 years old and received a Fisher Price play kitchen for Christmas, which became one of her most cherished childhood toys.

“That helped spark my imagination and interest in the culinary world,” she said. “And I’ve always loved to play with food. Only now I don’t get in trouble for it.”

As a student in the MBA program, Allen said the skills she has learned have already made her more effective at helping manage the people and processes in her current position. While she still plans to one day open her own business, her current job provides many opportunities to grow as a chef and as a leader.

“I’m driven to work in this sector because of my passion for baking and team building,” Allen said. “I feel rewarded to work alongside my bakery team and to serve our happy customers. I’m grateful to have a team of talented, hardworking and dedicated employees working with me.”

– Patrick Harbin