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Sharon Pruitt-Young showcases versatility at UMSL in writing career

Now an editor for National Public Radio, Sharon Pruitt-Young got her start at UMSL with The Current and Brain Stew.
UMSL Daily | Tue Jun 8, 2021
Sharon Pruitt-Young

Experiences such as serving as the editor of the UMSL student newspaper The Current and writing for the Pierre Laclede Honors College publication Brain Stew helped Sharon Pruitt-Young launch a career as a writer. (Photo courtesy of Sharon Pruitt-Young)

By David Morrison

Sharon Pruitt-Young started as an independent contractor for the Oxygen Network in 2015, shortly after she graduated from the University of Missouri–St. Louis. She was one of the first writers the television network hired to produce website content that accompanied its female-centric programming. 

Two years later, Oxygen made a rather abrupt pivot: true crime. 24/7. 

So Pruitt-Young pivoted as well. 

“When I started out at Oxygen, it was mostly lifestyle content, entertainment news and interviews with inspirational women,” Pruitt-Young says. “When they made the switch, I had a good relationship with them, so I decided to stay on as a crime writer. I had done it before here and there, but I hadn’t done full-on crime writing all the time. Definitely an adjustment.” 

Pruitt-Young’s experience working for student publications at UMSL prepared her well for the versatility she has showcased as a professional writer. 

Pruitt-Young, who earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from UMSL in 2015, was a contributor to Brain Stew, a student publication in the Pierre Laclede Honors College. The St. Louis native also worked her way up the ladder at The Current student newspaper, serving as a staff writer, columnist, opinions editor and news and managing editor. She was The Current’s editor-in-chief during the 2013-2014 school year. 

“Some of my best memories involve The Current,” Pruitt- Young says. “It’s definitely a bonding experience. We would meet to lay out the paper and put it together Sunday night. Sometimes we’d end up being there really late – a small, bare-bones skeleton crew putting the paper together every week. That was a really cool experience, even though it was hard at the time.” 

Pruitt-Young also benefited from an internship at St. Louis Magazine during her time with UMSL, as well as opportunities as a national contributor for publications such as USA TODAY College and Her Campus. 

In addition to her work with Oxygen, Pruitt-Young found time for freelance assignments covering tech news, entertainment and other topics that pique her interest before joining the NewsDesk/Digital News team at National Public Radio in May.

The former fellow with the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life also recently contributed mini-essays and sidebars to a young adult book on feminism that has yet to be released. She hopes to one day turn her love of writing toward short stories, poetry and novels. 

“When I was in college, I was looking into ways to write for a living because you can’t really start out as a novelist and say, ‘That’s going to be my day job,’” Pruitt-Young says. “I found out that I really liked it, and I stuck with it and explored different kinds of professional writing. UMSL has a lot of opportunities for that.” 

This story was originally published in the spring 2021 issue of UMSL Magazine. If you have a story idea for UMSL Magazine, email magazine@umsl.edu

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