Alumni Spotlight

Jesse Rudd II

By: Whitney E. Copley
August 07, 2012

“Since I was a small boy, I have always dreamed of following in my dad's footsteps and owning my own business someday. He never encouraged me to follow his career path in the coal industry. Rather, he always encouraged me to go to college, get a degree, and pursue my own passion,” explained University of Pikeville alumnus Jesse Rudd II. He was on track to do just that when Mother Nature changed his plans – literally overnight. Rudd’s last day of work as a pharmacist at McDowell Professional Pharmacy in McDowell, Ky., was scheduled for March 3, 2012. His plan was to use the remainder of the month to prepare for the April 2012 grand opening of Parkway Pharmacy in Salyersville, Ky., an entrepreneurial endeavor of Rudd and his father-in-law. However, the evening before his final day at McDowell Professional Pharmacy, a deadly tornado ripped through the southern region of the country and extended into the Ohio Valley. Salyersville, Ky., was in its direct path. The EF-3 tornado that swept through Salyersville brought winds of 165 miles per hour, demolishing homes and businesses, while skipping over others. Although Rudd’s home was spared, the building that would house his new business was damaged severely. The grand opening, initially set for the following month, was put on hold indefinitely.

Rudd reflected upon the aftermath of the tornado, “It was the most horrific and devastating event that I have ever personally witnessed. Shortly after it swept through our town, I was called upon to assist at the emergency shelter at our community center for those that had been injured or displaced.” He explained, “That night will vividly stay with me for the rest of my life. I can recall many families coming in throughout the night searching for loved ones that may have been in the path of the tornado. It always left me with a sick feeling when their search came up empty.” Although the future appeared grim for many trying to locate missing loved ones in the small community, Rudd explained that there was a silver lining. “By the grace of God, we had zero fatalities in Magoffin County.”

Along with many other businesses in Salyersville, the rebuilding process of Parkway Pharmacy is underway and in the final stages, with the grand opening now set for November 2012.

Initially a student at the University of Kentucky, Rudd recalled the events that led to his transfer to UPIKE. “The University of Pikeville was the best thing that ever happened to me academically.” At UK, Rudd struggled to adapt to such a new and different environment. After a year and a half at the University of Kentucky, he knew he needed a change. “While considering a new college, there were two factors that helped me decide where I would pursue my education: being able to continue my collegiate tennis career and finding an academic environment that I could grow in,” he said. Rudd’s former high school guidance counselor highly recommended Pikeville. John Biery, former UPIKE associate director of admissions, convinced Rudd that UPIKE would be the perfect fit. “John was more than right,” he said. The University gave me much more than I could have ever imagined. I received lasting friendships with students and faculty, a lifetime of memories as a student athlete, and a wonderful education.”

In the spring of 1998, he finished runner-up in the men's championship of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) tournament after suffering a shoulder injury in the final. In 1999, his team won the KIAC team tournament and advanced to the national tournament in Florida. In 2000, the team won the Mid-South Conference tournament and the Region Twelve team title to advance to the national tournament in Lexington, Ky.

Rudd finished his tennis career at UPIKE as a two-time first team KIAC all-conference player and as a one-time first team Mid-South all-conference player in both singles and doubles. In honor of his athletic accomplishments, Rudd was inducted into the University of Pikeville Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

Upon graduation, Rudd joined the workforce for one year before deciding to further his education. Taking another step in making his dream of becoming an entrepreneur a reality, he attended the Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., where he graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2005. Upon completion of pharmacy school, he took a job as a retail pharmacist for an independent pharmacy in his hometown of Salyersville. In July 2006, he went to work for Highlands Regional Medical Center as the assistant Director of Pharmacy where he was promoted to director of pharmacy in just three months. This position proved to be challenging, yet fulfilling. However, just over three years later, Rudd followed his passion and went back into independent retail pharmacy, accepting his current position at McDowell Professional Pharmacy.

Rudd received the Rising Young Alumni Award in the fall of 2011 at the annual University of Pikeville Alumni Awards Banquet.

“The University of Pikeville holds a special place in my heart. It helped to mold and shape me into the person I am today. And because of the University's role in my life, I want to try to give back by serving as a board member of the Alumni Association, giving financially, and promoting UPIKE to prospective students. I would also like to encourage all alumni of the University to get involved in some capacity. Our alma mater ‘on the hill’ is moving forward like never before.” 

Rudd is married to Rebekah Frazier Rudd, and they have two children; Trey is five years old, and Finley is 19 months.

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