The typical college student might have been a bit scared to meet Warren Buffet, but Jenna Marie James, ’12, telecommunications, says it only took a few seconds for the billionaire investor to wipe away the jitters on the floor the New York Stock Exchange.
“He was like my grandfather because he was so sweet and caring,” she says. “He walked in, shook my hand, and immediately went down on one knee. He explained it would make a good photo for me. He was just a really nice person and instantly made me feel comfortable. He was full of life, moving from place to place for photo opportunities and to talk with people.”
James, who hails from Newburgh, Indiana, met Buffett as a result of winning Business Wire’s college video contest for her depiction of the future of PR and communications (watch the winning video). She also chatted with the man known as the “Oracle of Omaha” during a luncheon.
“I was amazed by all the positive feedback,” James says. “I was invited to be on the CBS morning show to be interviewed about the video, and the anchors raved about it as did Warren Buffett. I just wanted to have fun with it.”
Her video featured construction paper, Sharpie pens, and time-shifting video techniques.
Cathy Baron Tamraz, Business Wire’s chairwoman and chief executive officer, said James’ video stood out for its creativity, making it an easy pick to win the national contest.
The contest was part of Business Wire’s 50th anniversary celebration. James was a guest of the company, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Co., where Buffett is the chairman and chief executive officer.
James was clearly thrilled to join Business Wire’s daylong celebration. Sharing Buffett’s talent for playing the ukulele, she even performed a tune on The Early Show. Buffett later signed two ukuleles for James.
“I started playing the ukulele last summer because I wanted to pick up some instrument. The guitar was too big for my hands, but the ukulele was perfect,” says James, who is slightly less than 5 feet tall. “I had no idea that Mr. Buffett played until Business Wire’s people called me and told me about it. I had to ask him to play a duet with me, but it was much too loud.”
James credits her blossoming video skills to her faculty, who work both in and out of the classroom to improve the abilities of their students.
“One of the reasons I selected Ball State is its outstanding telecommunications program, which is known around the country for giving students a superior education,” she says. “I don’t think I could have won this contest if I had gone somewhere else.”
Ball State telecommunications professor Joe Misiewicz believes James has a solid future in her field.
“She is meticulous, highly creative and does an excellent job of flying under the radar in terms of being a great team player, supporter of others, and not seeking accolades for her ideas or work—she is truly professional and has made an impact on our department.”