As an entrepreneur, a seasoned marketing professional and a mother, Joelle Purvis-Allen has her plate full as a first-year Full-time UST MBA student. Participating in the National Black MBA Competition as the lone first-year, she has jumped right in since the beginning of the program. In the thick of final projects, papers and final exam preparations, she took a break over lunch to share her background and aspirations.

Purvis-Allen was a marketing manager for Nolan Company—now part of WinWholesale Company—and helped changed the company’s focus from wholesale to retail, hosting trade shows and other events to increase consumer engagement and sales of higher end, luxury items. Her love of event planning began there, and eventually she started her own business, Allen Events, providing event services for weddings, corporations and group travel. It is through working an event for one of her clients that she learned about the Full-time UST MBA program and its Outreach Scholarships.

“I love events,” Purvis-Allen says with a smile. With leadership lessons learned from her professional mentors Ken King (former VP of marketing at Noland) and Mark Smith (VP and regional manager at Noland), she led a successful business and hopes to continue after she finishes her MBA. “I really want to break into the global events scene and reinvent the event planning business,” she adds, “and I thought getting an MBA at St. Thomas would help me to look at this business from multiple perspectives.”

Though she has a passion for the corporate event marketing and planning world, it is not her ultimate goal. She wants to start a nonprofit event planning organization that takes at-risk youth and teaches them the event planning business. She believes there is a lot that the event planning process can teach them and it can reinforce and incorporate what they learn at school—from simple math skills to problem solving skills to interpersonal skills. The nonprofit would provide the kids with event planning jobs and the profits would go to supporting their education, given they maintain certain academic standing. When asked about the reasons behind this plan, she stated simply—“I just combined my passion for service with my passion for event planning. I want to leave a legacy.”