Alumni Spotlight: James Barlow

Posted on May 1, 2023 by MCOB Outreach
MCOB Outreach

James Barlow data-lightbox='featured'

South alum discovered his potential as an undergrad at MCOB


James Barlow, a 2017 MCOB graduate, said when he was a high school student, he didn’t feel confident in his ability to get into college.

“I was a good kid, and I did well in school, but I suffered from not being able to envision success for myself,” said Barlow. “As far as looking down the road, future plans like college weren’t really on my radar.”

Barlow said he felt like he was an average student in high school, but wasn’t confident about the prospect of college. “I still remember taking the ACT, and I wasn’t the greatest test taker in the world. I remember getting my score back, and I was disappointed. Then I just kind of checked out for a while,” he said.

As a senior in high school in Birmingham, Alabama, Barlow decided to join a friend on a college check-out trip to South. “Once I was on campus and got a feel for everything USA had to offer, I fell in love with it,” he said. “I could really see myself there. As soon as I got back home, I applied and was thrilled when I found out I was accepted,” he said.

Then Barlow set his sights on the Mitchell College of Business. “I always knew I wanted to be in business. My dad was in sales, so I always knew I liked the business side of things,” he said.

“When I got to South and started taking classes, I began feeling like I could really handle it. My teachers were great, and I was able to find my stride,” he said. “I was able to make good grades, and it really boosted my confidence and my vision for myself in the future.”

When asked to name his favorite MCOB class, Barlow said, “Hands down, it was Dr. Sharland’s International Business class. He made the class fun, and it made me choose international business as my emphasis,” he said.

“I remember the coolest project I ever did in college was in that class. It was a project where we had to figure out how to market a product in another country,” he said. “We had to look at other countries’ cultures, statistics, disposable incomes, and other things, and come up with a product to sell.”

“Looking back, it was a hard project, and it took a lot of work, but it didn’t feel like it because I had a lot of fun doing it,” he said.

After graduating from MCOB, Barlow moved back to Birmingham and now works as a recruiter for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business. He also just graduated in April with an MBA.

“Even though I work for a competitor, I would recommend USA in a heartbeat,” he said with a laugh. “I’m truly grateful that South, and especially MCOB, gave this “average student” a chance because I was able to find my place, and see the potential in my abilities, and how I fit into society,” he said.

He added, “Mobile is such a great city. There are so many things to do, and you can get to a beach in less than an hour,” he said.

He added, “And I would tell all those “average students” out there, you have all the freedom in the world to truly find out what you want to be. There’s no pressure on you to be anything you don’t necessarily want to be,” he said. “The Mitchell College of Business can be your starting point to find yourself, just like I did.”

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