How is it that I simultaneously
reached the pinnacle of my academic career
and hit rock bottom in my personal life?
In the world of academia, Professor Lisa Pruitt seemed to have it all; she was recognized with numerous awards for research, teaching, and mentoring over decades of educational pursuit. As her career rose, Lisa painstakingly created an academic façade to lock away what lay within: an insecure little girl who believed the wrong daughter survived after her baby sister’s sudden death.
At the peak of her career, a life-threatening horse accident became the catalyst for the collapse of her armor. Hitting rock bottom, Lisa had to face what she’d kept hidden for nearly three decades: an eating disorder and alcohol addiction. Deeply ashamed of her inner struggles, she refused to ask for help within her academic circles, yet traditional recovery paths failed to work. Instead, her beloved thoroughbred stepped up and served as her light during her darkest moments. As her healer and companion, JJ guided her through the hills and valleys of her recovery, enabling Lisa to rediscover her worthiness that had been there all along.
Soul of a Professor is a remarkable story of resilience, perseverance, and—above all else—love.
Author: Lisa A. Pruitt, PhD
Publication Date: September 10, 2022
Lisa A. Pruitt, PhD
Lisa A. Pruitt received her PhD from Brown University and joined the faculty of Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley in 1993. She has authored more than three hundred publications in her research field of failure analysis, biomaterials, and medical devices. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, her research has been recognized with a Congressional citation, a National Science Foundation CAREER award, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, and she was elected to the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.
Professor Pruitt has also been honored for her commitment to excellence in mentoring, teaching, and outreach. She has received the American Association of Advancement of Sciences Mentoring Award; the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring; the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award, as well as the A. Richard Newton Educator Award. Professor Pruitt has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Behavior of Engineering Materials, Failure Analysis, Polymer Engineering, Medical Device Design, Personal Leadership, and Equine-Guided Leadership.
Pruitt has authored three books, including Mechanics of Biomaterials: Fundamentals for Implant Design (textbook, Cambridge University Press, 2011); Horse of Fire: The Story of an Extraordinary and Knowing Horse as told by JJ Luck (novel, Authorhouse, 2008; Amazon, 2019); as well as Savanna and the Magic Boots (children’s book, Authorhouse, 2011).
To learn more about Lisa A. Pruitt and her work, visit LisaAPruitt.com.
What Our Readers Are Saying…
“Authentic memoirs require the courage to reveal vulnerability, weakness, and inner struggle. As I read this piercing narrative, I was getting to know someone at once blessed with gifts and burdened with daunting personal challenges—someone with the determination to construct a meaningful and productive life. Soul of a Professor reminds us that being a human isn’t easy, while offering guidance and inspiration to navigate the journey.”
—Jonathan Balcombe, Author of Super Fly and What a Fish Knows
“Lisa Pruitt’s memoir, Soul of a Professor, shines a light on living behind a façade. She shares her inner world as she bravely tells her personal story. We see not just a successful professor but a woman who strives to find her place in this world. In this deeply personal story, Lisa shows us her soft underbelly and the strength she draws from nature and horses.”
—Kami Guildner, Business Coach for Women of Influence, Host of Extraordinary Women Radio and Extraordinary Women Ignite Conference
“You will be engaged. You will reflect. You will gain a deeper understanding of your own winding road of self-loathing and self-love. This memoir, which is unequivocally a profound journey, is a raw and unbridled storm of uneasy truths usually untold. The reader is allowed to walk a tightrope into the author’s vulnerability and her hard-earned wisdoms. Lisa shows us how an unexpected and unyielding love can lift the shroud of despair and darkness and bring redemption and light.”
—Dr. Kedrick Perry, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, Loyola University, New Orleans
“By sharing her raw and emotional story, Lisa tears down the image of a successful young engineer rising rapidly through the ranks of academia. She describes her own path out of an extremely dark personal and professional timespan, which includes the beautiful relationships she built with her horses. Her humanity, and ultimately her courage, shine through this memoir.”
—Dr. Ayyana M. Chakravartula, Failure Analysis and Strategy Lead, Google
… the story of her struggles is uplifting and a solid addition to the genre of addiction and recovery memoir.
“In this honest confession, engineering professor Lisa A. Pruitt reveals how she overcame alcohol abuse and a lifelong eating disorder through the therapy provided by her horse, JJ.”
“Pruitt’s prose is solid and her metaphors convincing, as when she describes her armor making her as ‘unyielding as structural steel.’ She’s humble about her professional successes, stressing instead the irony that, as an engineer, she didn’t anticipate she was driving herself to fracture.”
“In her work with her horses, … the prose and Pruitt as a character come alive …”
… an inspiring memoir about a lengthy search for a higher calling.
“The prose is careful and immediate, working to convey Pruitt’s work toward healing with conviction. Split into five parts, the book traces her progressive transformation. References to Pruitt’s age, the duration of her marriage, and her engineering life mark the passage of time with grace. The early chapters, which cover her frantic bulimic and anxious episodes, are short but coherent in revealing childhood pains. Later, the passages lengthen to encapsulate a wider range of experiences. Their pacing matches Pruitt’s growing maturity, becoming less frantic and more meditative. And Pruitt’s recovery is captured in open, patient terms, with longer, more detailed anecdotes that include scenery and rich emotional descriptions. These later passages sit with Pruitt’s emotions rather than running from them. Throughout, succinct conversations are used to break up Pruitt’s ruminating inner monologues. And the book balances its rough moments with its peaceful ones well, so that no one period dominates its work, which is expansive in its scope and appeal.”
“The prose is careful and immediate, working to convey Pruitt’s work toward healing with conviction.”
… a beautiful ode to the honesty that we owe ourselves …
“There is a great power to be found in autobiographical works by authors who have faced, understood, and reflected upon their personal truths. They have the capacity to act as a beacon to those of us with similar struggles and to broaden the understanding of those of us who haven’t known that pain. Lisa A. Pruitt’s work is deeply commendable both for the willingness she has to share her demons and her journey to overcome them and for her eloquent writing which renders her unique experiences relatable for every reader. Soul of a Professor is a beautiful ode to the honesty that we owe ourselves, and a rallying call for those of us still struggling to come to terms with the insecurities that hold us back in life. There is strength to be found in these pages, loaned to us by a remarkable author, and ready for readers to take into their own lives.”
“There is strength to be found in these pages, loaned to us by a remarkable author…”