Manderson MBA Student Jehme Pruitt Learns as She Goes


The daughter of a news anchor father and a nonprofit executive director mother, Manderson MBA student Jehme Pruitt initially considered medical school. She also thought about communications or journalism like her father, but ultimately settled on business. After all, she had watched her mother (Kerri Leslie Pruitt, MBA, 1992) and aunt (Dr. Kimberly Leslie Patton, 1986) succeed in business her whole life.

By her own admission, Pruitt was not initially drawn to The University of Alabama. In fact, she was meant to transfer to the University of Southern California her sophomore year. But to her surprise, she loved it here. “Everyone was so welcoming and just so nice,” she said. “And I really felt like Alabama was my home. So I just decided to stay and remove myself from the program. And I’ve loved [Alabama] ever since.” She majored in general business and then took a double minor in international business and computer tech and applications.

As an undergraduate, Pruitt stayed busy. She became involved in Greek life, pledging Phi Mu and ultimately becoming philanthropy chair. She took part in SGA, joining the vice president’s cabinet for financial affairs and working to start and implement a financial literacy program, and then taking the role of director of programming and advancement for the vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion cabinet. By her final year in SGA, she was chief of staff.

She joined the student recruitment team, supporting admissions by sending out mail packets, attending recruiting dinners or lunches, and giving tours to prospective students and parents. She especially liked working with football recruits and their families, and was able to work at some of Nick Saban’s football camps during the summer.

And she became a fellow at the Blackburn Institute, an organization designed to “cultivate the future ethical leaders for Alabama and the nation.” Pruitt explained, “You get many different experiences and get to meet all different types of people around Alabama and see how the state runs from government to infrastructure, roads to water.”

“It really makes you feel proud to be a part of state like this and to be so close and to have really amazing people running the state,” she went on.

Her first year as a Blackburn Fellow, Pruitt participated in the Daniel Community Scholars program, where students spend six to eight months working on a team project to address the needs of an Alabama community. The winning team receives funding and the right to implement their project with the community served. Pruitt’s group focused on prison reform, a passion that runs in her family—her parents own and run a nonprofit, the Dannon Project, that helps former prisoners reenter society.

As a Manderson MBA student, Pruitt is still exploring her options. She is trying to decide whether to pursue strategic management and marketing as concentration. Or perhaps she will explore data analytics, or international business.

But Pruitt does not like to decide sitting still. She was recently elected DEI chair of the MBAA Executive Board, and she is also helping with UA Business LEAD, facilitating coaching sessions and group workshops as well as providing support and feedback to students. “This year I’ve been trying to step out of my comfort zone and do different things and try to learn some new hard and soft skills,” she said.

What does the future hold? Pruitt is intrigued by the idea of living and working outside of Alabama, perhaps even internationally. But ultimately, she hopes to return home and make a life in her home state, planting her roots, maybe starting a business in Birmingham like her parents.

“I was raised by a family that helps others,” she said. “Wherever I can help is where I thrive best and wherever I can be of the most value is what I’m passionate about.”

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