Alumni Achievement Awards

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Brigham Young University graduates with significant professional accomplishments from each college will be honored with Alumni Achievement Awards during Homecoming 2018.

Brigham Young University graduates with significant professional accomplishments from each college will be honored with Alumni Achievement Awards during Homecoming 2018. The honorees will each give a lecture as part of the honor that will be targeted towards students, but open to the public.

See Past awardees

William Perry

David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies
Lecture: “Trump’s Trade Wars: How Tariffs Are Taxing Our Domestic Markets” (Thursday, Oct. 11, 11:00 a.m. – 238 HRCB)

After earning a Bachelor’s degree in international relations, William (“Bill”) O. Perry IV went on to graduate from BYU cum laude with his Juris Doctorate. He worked as a corporate attorney at Dechert, LLP in Pennsylvania, but eventually returned to Utah, where he’s sat on a number of boards and commissions. These have included serving under Governor Huntsman as a member of the Utah Land Use and Eminent Domain Advisory Board, being appointed to the Commission on Civics and Character Education, and acting as a Real Estate Commissioner. Now, Perry works at Perry Homes Inc., which spans Utah and Idaho. He is also the Vice President of the Utah Property Right Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group. As busy as he is, Perry hasn’t forgotten his alma mater, and works as adjunct faculty at the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, where he teaches a course on the United Nations. Finally, Perry also happily holds the position of husband and father; he and his wife, Kacey, have four children. ​

 

Leah Voorhies

David O. McKay School of Education
Lecture: “Convergence: The Antidote for Initiative Overload” (Thursday, Oct. 11, 11:00 a.m. – 115 MCKB)

Whether it’s in her profession, ward, or family, Leah Voorhies exemplifies the BYU motto: “Go forth to serve.” Professionally, Voorhies has worked tirelessly in public education. She’s served for ten years as an administrator for Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind, and eight years as a Special Education administrator for the state of Utah. Beyond Utah, Voorhies’ service extends around the world. She speaks four languages and has been involved in international humanitarian work for over a decade. One of her biggest projects has been working with the N’gala School for the Deaf in Kenya; over the years she’s helped provide everything from dental procedures for students and teachers to solar panels for the facility. Voorhies has also put her educational training to work in Guyana, educating teachers on ways to better help students with sensory disabilities. Still, despite professional awards and meaningful service, Voorhies is most proud of the relationships she’s fostered with each of her 27 nieces and nephews.

 

Ryan K. Woodley

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering
Lecture: “Effort, Not Intellect, Will Set You Apart” (Thursday, Oct. 11, 11:00 a.m. – JSB Auditorium)

Growing up on a small farm in Oregon, Ryan K. Woodley was inspired by his parents’ work ethic and focus on education: he went to BYU and graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering before eventually earning his MBA from Harvard. Now Woodley is the CEO of Progressive Leasing, a public company that has seen exceptional growth during his tenure. Previously, he was COO and CFO of DigiCert, Inc., where he also helped lead a team that realized significant growth. While Woodley is modest about his success, he’s proud to be ranked by his employees on Glassdoor as one of the most beloved finance CEOs. Woodley enjoys mentoring young professionals and carving out time for the Utah outdoors, indulging in everything from skiing to dirt biking, depending on the season. In the end, however, Woodley says that his highest priority in life will always be his family. He has been married to his wife, Jenni, for fifteen years, and together they have four daughters.

 

John H. Zenger

College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences
Lecture: “Can We Mass-Produce Exceptional Leaders?” (Thursday, Oct. 11, 11:00 a.m. – 250 KMBL)

One of John (Jack) Zenger’s co-written books is called The Extraordinary Leader, and the title fits him as well as any other leader he references. From his foundational days as a top psychology student at BYU  to his doctorate in business management at USC, and later as CEO of Zenger Folkman, Zenger has made enormous contributions as an academic, business consultant, and entrepreneur. His research in leadership, organizational behavior, and business management has made him a national thought leader as well as a bestselling author of 13 books and a frequent contributor to Forbes and the Harvard Business Review. Zenger has taken his extensive experience and channeled it back into education, serving as the BYU Alumni President as well as Chair of the Board of Trustees at Utah Valley University and on the Utah Board of Regents. His wife, Holly, and their combined family of 10 children have Zenger’s passion for education: Holly has an honorary PhD and their children have an MD, a JD, three PhDs, and five Master’s degrees between them.

 

Vai Sikahema

College of Fine Arts and Communications
Lecture: “Denied Admission to Alum of the Year: My BYU Journey” (Thursday, Oct. 11, 11:00 a.m. – Madsen Recital Hall HFAC)

Former Cardinals, Packers, and Eagles running back and kick returner Vai Sikahema ranks first among the NFL's all-time career leaders in number of punt returns and second in punt return yardage. However, the many accolades that issue from his diverse endeavors—from amateur boxing and college football to journalism and broadcasting—belie his hardworking roots as a child in Nuku‘alofa, Tonga, and later Mesa, Arizona. He played football at BYU and graduated in Broadcast Journalism before becoming the first Tongan drafted into the NFL. Since 1994 Sikahema has been a Philly fixture as a morning news anchor at NBC and host of  “Wednesday’s Child,” a TV feature promoting adoption. He has earned three Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Awards for his work in local television and in 2013 was inducted into the Philadelphia Broadcast Pioneers’ Hall of Fame. In 2008 Sikahema’s influence and testimony helped the Church get the Philadelphia Temple approved by the city. He is married to Keala Heder and together they have four children.

 

Kelli D. Barbour

College of Humanities
Lecture: “Getting from There to Here” (Thursday, Oct. 11, 11:00 a.m. – B092 JFSB)

Kelli D. Barbour’s time at BYU started a journey of education that has led her around the world. After completing an undergraduate degree in microbiology, Barbour went on to receive a master’s in German Literature from BYU, both a medical degree and master’s in Global Health Sciences from the University of California, San Francisco, a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Indiana University, and a fellowship in Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of Utah. She travelled to Tanzania, Kenya, and Switzerland, working with universities and the World Health Organization to address women’s health issues through training and education, and learning Spanish, French, and Swahili along the way. Barbour received awards while at BYU for her work as a teaching assistant, and used those peer mentoring skills to assist fellow residents while at Moi University in Kenya, laying important groundwork for new research curriculum. She is currently teaching at Baylor Medical College in Houston, Texas, while spending 40% of her time in Malawi providing clinical care, education, and conducting research.

 

Mike Mosman

J. Reuben Clark Law School
Lecture: “How Not to Be Stupid” (Monday, Oct.15, 11:45 a.m. – 303 JRCB)

Like his father, Oregon-born, Idaho-raised Michael (Mike) Mosman chose a legal career. After finishing a degree in Psychology at Utah State, he earned a JD at BYU and became Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. He clerked for Judge Malcolm Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as well as Justice Lewis Powell of the U.S. Supreme Court. After a stint with Miller Nash in Portland, Oregon, where he focused on constitutional litigation involving school districts, Mosman spent 15 years as a U.S. or Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force. He was chosen to serve on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee to develop policy for the field, and in 2003 was appointed to the bench. He prosecuted one of the first post 9/11 terrorism cases and in 2013 he was appointed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. He serves today as Chief Judge of the District of Oregon. He and his wife, Suzanne Hogan, also born in Oregon, have five children.

 

Melissa C. Sevy

College of Life Sciences
Lecture: “Embracing Ambiguity: Practicing the Art of Openness in Pursuing Your Life's Path” (Thursday, Oct. 11, 11:00 a.m. – 2102 LSB with overflow in 267 RB)

Melissa Sevy grew up as the only girl in a home with four “rough and tumble brothers,” and together they explored uncharted stretches of southern Utah desert. Her adventurous spirit and degrees in public health propelled her into the world of social entrepreneurship. Sevy co-founded Musana International and then Fair Kind, both of which work to employ and empower artisans in the developing world by facilitating their entrance into the global market. Additionally, her consulting firm Givv helps companies develop their social impact programs. Sevy is currently the president of Social Enterprise Alliance of Utah and was one of Utah Valley Business Q’s “40 under 40” for 2018. Through the channels she has created, Sevy has implemented health and community development projects in countries as diverse as Uganda, Rwanda, India, Morocco, and China, and has spent much of the past decade abroad. When she is in the United States, she is a BYU and UVU adjunct instructor, an avid fruit dehydrator, and an Ironman enthusiast.

 

Ronald D. Haas, Jr.

Marriott School of Business
Lecture: “The Human Connection in a Digital World” (Friday, Oct. 12, 10:00 a.m. & 11:00 a.m. – 710 TNRB)

Although advising telecom and tech companies keeps Southern California native Ron Haas busy, he hasn’t stopped visiting BYU several times each year to stay involved with the National Advisory Council for the Marriott School of Business, mentor students, and provide them with meaningful internship and employment experiences. Given his 25 years of consulting experience with Deloitte, Arthur Andersen, and for the last 16 years as a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, he has valuable lessons to share. Haas tells students, “Every graduate who leaves Provo and goes forth into the world represents the university. You are the brand of BYU, and a living example of BYU’s mission and purpose.” Currently living in Dallas, Haas lives by those words in leading several global businesses for his firm, and has gone forth to serve in the community through efforts to teach and inspire youth, develop leaders, support the arts and culture, and help those in need. Haas and his wife, Janice, have eight children and two grandchildren.

 

Holly J. Christensen

College of Nursing
Lecture: “Going Forth to Serve in Unexpected Ways” (Thursday, Oct. 11, 11:00 a.m. – 270 KMBL)

Holly J. Christensen, a third-generation Alaskan, was no stranger to hard work when she applied herself to succeed in her nursing classes, but advice from instructor Catherine Coverston encouraged her to stay “well-rounded,” because the nurse who did more than just study would be “the kind of compassionate and caring nurse that a patient will remember and be grateful for having.” Christensen took that advice to heart. In addition to having a successful career as a nurse in ICU, Alzheimer’s, medical/surgical, orthopedics, and oncology units, she has started a non-profit called The Magic Yarn Project. The Project provides soft, warm yarn wigs to little children with cancer who have lost hair due to chemotherapy treatments. For many such children, who have endured difficult surgeries and other interventions, the wigs give them a chance to feel like a child again. The Magic Yarn Project has delivered almost 9,000 wigs to date. When not working or making wigs, Christensen enjoys salmon fishing and hiking with her husband, Garrett, and their three children..

 

Thomas Lowery Erekson

College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences
Lecture: “Physics for All” (Thursday, Oct. 11, 11:00 a.m. – 1170 TMCB)

For Tom Erekson, physics—more than inertia—makes the world go round. Since taking Physics 121 with Dr. John Merrill as a freshman at BYU, Erekson has never looked back. He began his career in 1994 as an intern, then transferred to Lone Peak High School when it opened in 1997 and became its first science department chair. Since then he has made continuous contributions to science education, including coauthoring the Utah Physics Core Curriculum, which has been in use for the last 15 years. Erekson has been actively serving the next generation by mentoring dozens of new and student teachers. He has won countless awards at the district, state, and national level for his dedication and excellence. Erekson is passionate about making sure all students have a chance to succeed, “Physics should be a course that every high school student can take successfully,” he says. When he’s not in the classroom, Erekson enjoys doing all things Disney with his wife, Jen, and their sons and daughters.