The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Meet the prez

By Ana Breton

When Jake Kirkham was in eighth grade, he was a self-proclaimed nerd.

He was a regular at basketball games, he skipped his LDS seminary classes to eat at Burger King, and when he was old enough to like girls, he preferred blondes, he said.

During one basketball game at the U, he met Toby Collett, an avid sports fan like himself.

Neither was involved in the Wasatch Junior High student government. And neither would have predicted they would be running the U’s student government as president and vice president about eight years later.

And today, not much has changed. Kirkham still describes himself as a nerd who frequently attends basketball games and carries vitamins in his pockets during the winter.

Only now, he has less time to be a nerd.

Taking 12 credit hours, Kirkham, a senior in economics, is a busy man. He goes to classes in the morning, then spends most of his afternoon until the late evening in various meetings, cramming homework and brainstorming ideas for the office in between.

“Sometimes, this job disrupts my classes,” Kirkham said. “But my teachers have been very understanding when I have an important meeting. And on the other hand, cabinet members realize that I need to go to class.”

During the State of the ASUU Address, Collett announced that Kirkham had gotten engaged. Kirkham and his fiance, Whitney Johnson, who graduated from the U last year, will be married during Spring Break next year.

A date he chose so that he wouldn’t miss school, Kirkham said.

His faith helps him balance school and his presidency, said Kirkham, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. “This is a position of high stress, so my religion really helps me when I have a lot going on,” Kirkham said.

He served a mission for the LDS Church in Vancouver, Canada, several years ago.

For fun, Kirkham said he likes to watch “24” and listen to old-school music like Pearl Jam, Jimmy Eat World and Coldplay.

His favorite movie is “Rudy,” he said, “because it’s all about the underdog,” a word he uses to describe himself.

Kirkham said he also enjoys singing and was a member of his high school choir. He can even sing every word in the “Utah Man” song.

“He has a fantastic shower voice,” Collett said.

Kirkham said his favorite U.S. president is Ronald Reagan because, besides being a good actor, he was “able to make friends with his enemies on the hill.”

His favorite ASUU president is Ali Hasnain, who served last year, because he was hardworking, assertive and had a lot of integrity, Kirkham said.

Kirkham served on Hasnain’s executive cabinet last year. Hasnain’s message to Kirkham when he became president: “‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,'” Kirkham said. “‘A chance to change students’ lives.'”

But even though Kirkham said he gets no special treatment, he does admit he receives some perks as president.

He was invited to the away football game against New Mexico, he gets to chat with University of Utah President Michael K. Young on a monthly basis and he received an “X” parking permit, which allows him to park anywhere on campus.

“Not a lot of downsides,” Kirkham said.

Mike Terry

President Kirkham speaks to the ASUU Assembly concerning KUTE and UPC funding bills at the Officer’s Club on Tuesday.

Mike Terry

ASUU President Jake Kirkham’s life outside of commanding ASUU is not as controversial as some might think. Kirkham and fianc Whitney Johnson practice one of the many activities of being married, shopping together at Barnes and Noble. Kirkham and Johnson plan to wed in March 2007.

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