A Notre Dame salutatorian reflects on his trip and discusses his future military career // The Observer
Morgan La Sala of Wayne, New Jersey, has been selected as Notre Dame’s class of 2022 salutatorian.
La Sala majored in mechanical engineering and was a very active member of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) during his undergraduate studies. La Sala lived at Flaherty Hall for three years, serving as Big-Little Commissioner and as a member of the Welcome Weekend Team for his dormitory.
Although ROTC became a defining feature of her time at Notre Dame, La Sala did not arrive on campus as part of the program. She said she always felt drawn to military service because of her father’s time on active duty, but wasn’t sure she was approaching the call for the right reasons.
“My dad was in the military, I considered going to the Naval Academy, so I had some interest in the military, but I thought I didn’t really want that. And then, thanks to those explorations in engineering, I kind of realized that I didn’t really want the typical job and that led me back to ROTC,” she said.
After her first fall semester on campus, La Sala headed to the Pasquerilla Center to enroll in the NROTC.
“I was seeing people walking around in their uniforms and that really inspired me, so I went to Pasquerilla Center at the end of my first semester and just signed up,” she said. “It was a super awesome experience. I think that really helped define my role at Notre Dame.
La Sala said her time as an aspirant helped her develop her leadership skills and provided her with a support system from students with similar goals.
“People have just been amazing. You have this group of people who all have the same goal, this same desire to serve in the military, to be part of something bigger than yourself. So you have this camaraderie which is really great,” she said. “You get a lot of different experiences, and it changes so quickly. So you really learn to be flexible, you learn to adapt, you learn to take on a new position.
La Sala will attend the tri-commissioning ceremony on Saturday, where she will become a commissioned ensign. After graduating, she will travel to Pensacola, Florida and begin training to become a pilot.
When La Sala first learned that she was up for valedictorian and salutatorian, she said she was very surprised.
“Coming to first year, I just wanted to do my best. I really didn’t know where I was going to fall,” she said. “When I found out I was in the running, I was pretty shocked just because everyone I meet at school is incredibly awesome…you don’t really imagine yourself as being in that group as well. “
She expressed her deep appreciation for her fellow mechanical engineering majors and the challenges she faced in a difficult major.
“The hardest thing is that they push you out of your comfort zone, but that’s for the best because you come out stronger and you have something to be proud of after that,” he said. she stated.
La Sala noted that she wouldn’t have been so successful without her “incredible support systems”.
“I know I couldn’t be here 100% without both of my parents, as well as my roommates,” La Sala said. “The people I lived with made this experience so much easier and made it super fun. They really allowed me to fully experience Notre Dame.
As part of his selection, La Sala will offer the invocation prayer at the start of the opening ceremony on Sunday.
La Sala said that unlike the draft of his farewell speech, writing the invocation came easily to him. She explained that her prayer will contain three main sections: the journey to Our Lady, the experience the class had during their undergraduate studies, and the call to continue to be a force for good as they come out in the world.
“In my prayer, I really want to express a lot of gratitude for how we all got to Notre Dame,” she said. “Secondly, I want to express a lot of gratitude for while we were at Notre Dame, all those people who helped us: roommates, teachers who were an inspiration, the hall staff who helped us really supported, families that were there miles away on the phone or things like that… Then looking forward, just asking for guidance to keep us on the path to good for others.
While reflecting on the lessons she learned at Notre Dame, La Sala said there are three main tools she believes will help her and all other graduates make a difference outside of the university.
“I think three tools that can help us make good decisions going forward are that community, that passion for service and the fighting spirit,” La Sala said. “You have the courage to do something difficult because the Fighting Irish have shown you how to do it.”