For Past Presidents, Skills Translate
Published: Thursday, February 9, 2012
Updated: Friday, February 10, 2012 02:02
It was a winding road that brought Twister Murchison (SFS '08) to Hollywood, and the Georgetown University Student Association played an important supporting role.
Murchison, who is now assistant to the vice president of animation at 20th Century Fox, points to his tenure as GUSA president, which began in the spring of 2006, as one of the formative moments of his career.
"I learned the value of persistence when I was in GUSA," he says.
Although it has been almost six years since his term ended, Murchison is quick to recall the highlights of his time in office. In late 2006, he successfully mobilized the student body against a university-sponsored ban on kegs. He also enacted a constitutional amendment that established the student senate. Both are accomplishments which he is still proud to talk about.
Former GUSA presidents have found their way to places from Hollywood, like Murchison, to Wall Street, where last year's president Calen Angert (MSB '11) now works.
But while their accomplishments as president are left behind after graduation, Murchison and others say the lessons they learned in office stay with them.
"Coming from Georgetown and being in GUSA, you meet so many people from all these different backgrounds, and it's great training because out here, you have to be ready to talk to just about anybody," Murchison says.
After graduating in 2005, former GUSA President Kelley Hampton (SFS '05, LAW '10, GRD '10) went on to collect two more Georgetown degrees. She now works at a non-profit called Break the Cycle, which reaches out to victims of domestic and dating violence.
Though she initially thought that she would go into government, Hampton says that controversy during her campaign caused her to reconsider those plans. Although Hampton won the presidential election, the GUSA Election Commission delayed her inauguration for two months while it debated the legality of fliers her campaign placed in The Hoya.
"Every year there is some kind of turmoil that happens during elections, and my year was no different. That taught me a lot about being political, and I wasn't really ready to be political," she laughs.
While campaigning, Hampton met a group of student activists who piqued her interest in women's rights issues. She decided to go to law school to study the normative side of government and found employment as an activist for women's rights.
"I think at Georgetown, or any college for that matter, there are certain groups you are going to run into, and then some you don't. GUSA really pushes you to open up and meet a lot of people that you otherwise wouldn't have met," Hampton says.
While the campaign trail schooled presidents like Murchison and Hampton in personal relations, it was serving as president that indoctrinated them in the financial side of university operations. Between balancing budgets and lobbying for funding, GUSA presidents become well versed in financial planning.
"I definitely got a better understanding of the business aspect of the school," Hampton says.
GUSA President from 2001 to 2002 Tawan Davis (COL '01), for example, works both as the vice president of New York City's Economic Development Corporation and as an adjunct professor of finance at New York University.
Perhaps most important for these former presidents was the opportunity to polish their leadership skills early in their careers. Pravin Rajan (SFS '07), a Rhodes scholar, a captain in the Marine Corps and GUSA president from 2005 to 2006, jokes that he weeded out many of his leadership faults during his term.
"It was definitely amazing leadership experience. I learned many, many things that I will never do again. Many things," he says. "I don't know how great of a leader I was at the time. I think I just surrounded myself with smart people, and I definitely use a lot of those leadership skills in the Marine Corps."
Murchison, Hampton, Davis, Rajan and Angert still joke about their missteps in office and remember their greatest triumphs, along with the relationships they formed.
"I still talk to all my GUSA friends, too, all the time. Those are my closest friends from Georgetown," Murchison says. "I look back on that time when I was really stressed, but I loved what I was doing, and I'm proud of what we did."