At Baccalaureate, Graduates Turn to Words of Faith and Tradition
Shalom. God Bless You. Assalamu alaikum. Namaste. Aloha.
In any language or culture, the sentiment is the same. And during baccalaureate for the Ursinus College class of 2022, graduates celebrated with songs and readings that represent the many faiths and traditions of the student body.
Vai Sikahema, a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, greeted each of the student readers at the ceremony with these sayings and more before he delivered the keynote baccalaureate address to the graduates on Friday, May 13.
“You Ursinus kids are well-traveled,” he said. “You never cease to amaze me.”
With his own family in attendance, Sikahema, who is Polynesian, began his remarks by running into the audience, where his aunt presented him with a lei to cheers from the Ursinus graduates.
“Young friends,” he said. “Don’t make the mistake of wasting your education in accumulating wealth, for the sake of accumulating wealth. Use your intellect and your means to bless lives. Help others where you see need. Don’t wait to have someone point it out. Just act on your instincts.”
Sikahema played in the NFL for eight seasons and was a longtime sports and news broadcaster for NBC10 in Philadelphia. He received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity during the commencement ceremony.
“You will look back fondly on these years as a period of tremendous growth intellectually,” he said. “And I hope and pray that you’ve also grown spiritually. Your Ursinus degree will serve you well. Wherever life takes you, let it also serve others well. Allow your education to be a blessing to others.”
Baccalaureate included performances by the Ursinus gospel choir and Praise in Motion, and readings from the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Native American traditions. Readers were Aaron Edwards ’22, Zainab Williams ’22, Simba Kanjanda ’22, Jennifer Berrios ’22, and Benjamin Antill ’22. Kanjanda and Coachi were also presented with the 2022 Senior Alumni Awards.
Berrios (Service Award), Edwards (Hillel Award), Williams (Spirituality Award), and Brandon Winfield ’22 (Chapel Award) were given Office of Religious and Spiritual Life Awards, and Winfield was honored with the Ursinus Quest Award.
“Be yourself. Be faithful to yourself,” Winfield said to his classmates. “Be faith to your friends and your higher power and you shall reap the benefits.”