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On-Campus Interview Series: Meet the New SA Co-Presidents

Last week, Justin Hu (NC) and Keith Melker (NG) were elected Student Association Co-Presidents. I sat down with them this week to find out what makes the two men tick.

Justin Hu
Section: C
Nickname: El jefe (recently attributed)
How nickname was acquired: Co-presidential victory
Prior experience in politics: Social chair of fraternityMost memorable HBS trip/retreat/trek: I haven’t had the chance to go on many yet, but of the two I’ve been on, I’d say Tremblant where I nearly froze to death.but I hope the upcoming Japan and Korea treks will be my most memorable.
Favorite movie: Where do I start? I have an eclectic taste in movies so it’s hard to limit to just one: “Friday,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Hoosiers” and “Braveheart” are some that jump out at me.Favorite book: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn RandFavorite quote: “When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I’m beginning to believe it” by Clarence Darrow. I found this during the election and now that I’m actually in the position, I find it to be true.
Favorite food: Anything my mom cooks
Marital status: Happily married. My wife, Stephanie Hu (NI), is definitely the brains behind the operation.

Keith Melker
Section: G-Thang
Nickname: Sir Milx-a-lot
How nickname was acquired: I’ve had a lot of nicknames over the years due to my unique last name, but this one’s my favorite. I was playing intramural basketball in college and somebody yelled, “Take his rock, Milx-a-lot!” I replied, “That’s Sir Milx-a-lot to you!” and it basically stuck.ÿ (For those who may not know, Sir Mix-a-lot is a funky hip-hop artist most well known for his 1991 number-one hit “Baby Got Back.”)
Prior experience in politics: I was the president of a small Southeast Asian country for about six years in the mid 90s.
Most memorable HBS trip/retreat/trek: Definitely Fall Section retreat. I’ll always remember a sectionmate, who had been drunk since he got off the bus at 5:00 p.m., walking up to a group of us sitting on the front porch of our cabin at about three in the morning. His pants, and underoos for that matter, were wadded up under his arm and he asked, “Hey, have you guys seen my pants?”
Favorite movie: “Airplane.” It reinvented the way comedies were made.Favorite book: The Outsiders by S.E. HintonFavorite quote: I often get asked this question and almost always draw a blank. In one such instance, I was interviewing for a selective student organization in college in front of a committee of about 10 students and two faculty sponsors. I totally blanked and after about 30 seconds of silence, I said, “I heard a good quote the other day: “I’d rather be pissed off than pissed on.” Purely for nostalgia, I think I’ll stick with it.
Favorite food: Any kind of Mexican food, but especially beef fajitas with guacamole.
Marital status: Married – four years in June.

Harbus: What prompted you to run for Section Co-Presidents?

Keith: Not what, but who. That would be Justin. He said he’d give me some beef fajitas if I could deliver Section G’s votes. Cha-ching!

Justin: I knew I wanted to run prior to arriving at HBS and felt this was a tremendous opportunity for me to make a contribution to the students and to the school. Alex (Michael) was a good friend of mine so I had a chance to pick his brain. If nothing else, I suppose it’s also a good icebreaker.But that being said, Keith and I are very committed to and excited about this responsibility and appreciate the support we have received from our classmates.

Harbus: Why did you choose each other as running mates?

Justin: Keith and I are neighbors, so I figured that purely for logistical purposes, it makes a lot of sense, as I wouldn’t have to travel that far for cabinet meetings. Plus he’s tall and white, so I figured he was a good complement to me.

Keith: We definitely have complementary skills. Justin’s good at pretty much everything except for dancing, which is where I come in.

Harbus: Your campaign slogan was “Not as great as Jan Carlzon, but way better than Erik Peterson.” So, what is it that Jan Carlzon can do that you can’t?

Keith: There are many things. Most notably, I can’t give motivational speeches on ladders. I’m afraid of heights, so even a small stepstool would be a stretch.

Harbus: Who are the political figures you admire most and why?

Keith: I’m a pretty moderate Republican but have always been a big fan of J.C. Watts, former Oklahoma Congressman and House Republican Conference Chairman. He was the first black Republican elected to any Federal office by a Southern state in the modern era, is a committed Christian and family man, and quarterbacked my Oklahoma Sooners to consecutive Orange Bowl championships in the early 80s.

Justin: Alan Greenspan. His effect on the world economy and, to a lesser degree, politics, has been remarkable.

Harbus: What is your main goal for next year?

Keith: There’s definitely been an outcry from the students to get more involved in determining the direction of the school’s operations and policies. I think the grade-disclosure issue served as a bit of a wake-up call for students and faculty. We really believe that HBS students are second-to-none in terms of creativity, charisma, and intelligence and hope to leverage those qualities more effectively. Aside from that, more clapping by HBS students. I got a fever and the only prescription.is more clapping!

Justin: As we’ve dug deeper into the responsibilities of the office, we’ve been truly amazed by the positive changes Alex and Akram have made. HBS was obviously a great place before they took over, but they’ve really been able to add a lot of organization and efficiency to the Student Association. In our first Senate meeting, we were so impressed by the things the Senators and SA Executive Committee have accomplished over the past year, and we’re excited about the chance to build instead of rebuild. Our hats go off to this past year’s student leadership, especially to “A&A.”

We’re going to work hard to achieve some of our primary platform issues, including: more student involvement in the development of the first-year curriculum; getting a convenience store on campus, also a possible venue for late-night grub which has been a popular request, and ensuring that we, as students, have a voice in what goes on with this institution. Hopefully, we’ll all leave with fond memories of our time here.

Harbus: What do you most look forward to doing during your time as Co-Presidents?

Justin: Getting to meet new people and hopefully making a positive contribution to the school. Also, I hear the VIP treatment Alex and Akram got downtown was money, so those perks don’t hurt too bad either.

Keith: Now that I have access to the Student Association listserv, I will be spamming students mercilessly.

March 27, 2006
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