Friday marks the beginning of Alumni Weekend for BYU, an annual event celebrating former BYU graduates.
The Communications School is having its first ever communications-specific alumni event with special guest Vai Sikahema.
Sikahema received a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism in 2002. After graduating from BYU, Sikahema was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and went on to play for the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, Sikahema puts his broadcast skills to use as a morning anchor for NBC10.
Sikahema played an instrumental part in allowing for the Philadelphia temple to be built.
In a November 2015 BYU devotional, Dean M. Davies shared the story of how, shortly after filing the paperwork to purchase the property the temple would be built on, the city of Philadelphia took legal action against the transaction.
Davies flew to Philadelphia to meet with the mayor, a city council member and a few of the mayor’s staff. He was joined by the LDS Church temple architect, an Area Seventy and two local church members, one of them Sikahema.
Davies described the meeting with the mayor as intense and unfriendly at first. Although the group of five had prayed beforehand, the outcome looked bleak.
Before a final decision was made, Sikahema asked for permission to speak. The mayor knew Sikahema and granted his permission.
“Mr. Mayor, many years ago when I was a young boy in Tonga, my father and mother and my brothers and sisters sold our home, we sold fruits and vegetables, and we sold everything we could to have enough money to travel to Hamilton, New Zealand, to be sealed as an eternal family in the temple,” Sikahema said to the mayor, according to Davies. “You need this temple. This temple will bless your city. This temple will bless your community. It will bless the people.”
Davies said the room was silent until the city councilman, a nonmember, spoke and echoed Sikahema’s words. At the end of the meeting, the mayor even asked Davies to offer a prayer. The plans for the temple moved forward.
In June of this year, Philly.com interviewed Sikahema about the temple, the church in Tonga, and his personal commitment to his faith.
Othello Richards, a visiting professor who graduated from the broadcast journalism program a year after Sikahema, commented on the high standards that BYU alumni bring to their careers and professions.
“I love to see BYU alumni in the national spotlight because of what they represent,” Richards said.
Sikahema has certainly been in the spotlight, first in his football career, then as an anchor, and finally as a member of the church. For those interested in learning more about Sikahema’s career and asking for advice, he will be at a Q&A session hosted by the BYU Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists Friday in BRMB 270 from 2-3 p.m.