Seems like someone had tried to get Jamaica and James Bryant together once before. It took The Consortium to finally make it happen.
Professional success stories are legion among Consortium alumni. But we take a special joy in sharing a story that includes professional success and a touch of magic.
Today, Jamaica (UVA ’11) is director of operations for the MBA Career Management Center at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. James (UNC ’11) is senior manager, global merchant services at American Express.
But we pick up our story more than a decade ago, when James worked as a marketing representative for an insurance firm and Jamaica worked as a supervisor for a wholesale parts supplier — both in Atlanta.
And they lived within a mile of each other. They never met during their time in Atlanta, although they had frequented some of the same places around their neighborhoods.
It wasn’t until each decided to get their MBA, after both had been accepted to the University of Virginia’s business school, that they first met at an admitted students’ weekend in February 2009 in Charlottesville.
A Slow Start
James saw Jamaica at the event while he was chatting with Darden’s admissions officer at the time, Kellie Sauls. “I was hoping Kellie would introduce us,” James said. And she did.
It didn’t go that well.
“He was talking to her and having a good time,” Jamaica said. “I was very excited because I had gotten The Consortium scholarship and the Forte scholarship. Kellie introduced us, but I just said a quick hi and started talking to Kellie because I was so excited.”
Undeterred, he persisted and talked to her a little at a dinner for all the admitted students that evening. They exchanged information and went their separate ways — he to Atlanta, her to Baltimore, where she was working at that time. A few Facebook messages later and Jamaica was starting to wonder what was developing.
“I’m a little bit oblivious at this point,” she said. “I think this guy likes me. He might, but I’m not sure.”
Smitten For Certain
James was sure. When he knew they would see each other at the Orientation Program & Career Forum in Charlotte, N.C., that June, he was ready. He knew Jamaica was going to be single-minded about her focus on interviews for prospective internships.
“I was going to take it seriously and prepare,” James said. “But I was really focused on meeting Jamaica.”
By the end of OP, they were both bowled over. They’d spent as much time as possible together and when they departed, took every opportunity for a goodbye hug as they encountered each other in the hotel lobby, the cab stand, airport security and at lunch.
“We think of the end of OP as this long, drawn out series of hugs,” Jamaica said. “It’s entertaining and it’s sweet.”
Wedding Bells at City Hall
From there, the couple burned through all their airline miles to visit each other. They conspired to get internships in Chicago—her with Kraft, him with Accenture. During their second year of business school, James stacked his classes so he could make the three-hour commute to Charlottesville for long weekends nearly every week.
By October 2013, after they’d both established themselves in positions with separate Chicago companies, they finally decided it was time. “We’d graduated from business school, we’d bought a condo” Jamaica said. “We were talking one night. I said, ‘I really want to be with you’ and he said, ‘I really want to be with you.'”
They got their marriage license the next day and eloped the day after that. They flipped a coin to see whose parents would get the first phone call. Jamaica “won” and was greeted with screams of joy from the other end when she announced the marriage. James’ parents had also eloped and were equally thrilled for the couple.
Now both are back in the city where they had just missed each other years earlier. And they’re both strong advocates for The Consortium.
“Whenever we hear of anyone interested in getting their MBA, we always recommend The Consortium,” Jamaica said. “We’re very loyal to The Consortium.”
PICTURED ABOVE: The “official” wedding portrait that a friend took of James and Jamaica Bryant on the day they eloped in Chicago. They are both 2011 Consortium alums and met through their membership.