Devin Diggs named valedictorian; Morgan La Sala selected salutatorian

Author: Sue Ryan

Devin Diggs of Olathe, Kansas, has been named valedictorian and Morgan La Sala from Wayne, New Jersey, has been selected salutatorian of the 2022 University of Notre Dame graduating class.

The 177th University Commencement Ceremony will be held May 15 (Sunday) in Notre Dame Stadium for graduates and guests. During the ceremony, Diggs will present the valedictory address, and as the salutatorian, La Sala will offer the invocation.

Devin Diggs, 2022 valedictorian. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)
Devin Diggs, 2022 valedictorian. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Diggs is a neuroscience and behavior major in the College of Science with a minor in education, schooling and society. He carries a 4.0 grade point average and was a finalist for both the 2021 Rhodes Scholarship and Marshall Scholarship. Upon graduation, he will first take part in a 10-week, federally funded summer internship program with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Washington, D.C., designed to equip graduate students and recent undergraduates from underrepresented populations to work in the public health field. Diggs is one of only 22 interns from around the country chosen for the program out of more than 850 applicants. He was also selected for a Postgraduate Student Award from the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission for the 2022-23 academic year. Following his summer internship, he will use his Fulbright award to pursue a Master of Science degree in mental health in education at the University of York in England. He hopes to attend medical school to serve children and families affected by early life adversity as a physician-researcher.

A member of the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program, Diggs was an early inductee into Phi Beta Kappa honor society and has been a member of the Dean’s List every semester. 

During the summer of 2019, he worked for the Center for Learning and Childhood Development in Accra, Ghana, with parents, caregivers and health care workers for children with cerebral palsy. Last summer, he worked at the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis, and he also spent time in 2020 working in the developmental biopsychiatry research program through Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. 

On campus, he was a three-year research assistant in the Sleep, Stress and Memory Lab with psychology professor Jessica Payne, studying how sleep and stress affect memory through cognitive neuroscientific approaches. He was one of five Notre Dame undergraduates to present at this year’s annual ACC Meeting of the Minds Conference where he presented his senior thesis supervised by Payne.

Diggs has been involved with The Shirt Project all four years and was its president last year. He also supported the University’s COVID-19 Response Unit as a test site worker at the saliva collection center, and has been a medical observer at Memorial Hospital, a clinic volunteer at Saint Joseph Family Medicine Center and an intern at the St. Joseph County Department of Health in South Bend. In his free time throughout his Notre Dame career, Diggs volunteered as a Take Ten skills-based conflict resolution and emotion regulation instructor with local elementary school students, served as an undergraduate teaching fellow for the God and the Good Life philosophy course, was a classroom volunteer at the Early Childhood Development Center on campus and participated in the Appalachia Social Concerns seminar in Wheeling, West Virginia, during his spring break in 2020.

A mechanical engineering major, La Sala has been extensively involved in the University’s Naval ROTC program and received a Naval ROTC three-year scholarship. As battalion commanding officer in the fall of 2021, she managed all operations, led more than 100 midshipmen and was responsible for the development and execution of the unit’s strategic plan. 

Morgan La Sala, 2022 salutatorian. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)
Morgan La Sala, 2022 salutatorian. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

She has served as a midshipmen mentor for incoming freshmen, battalion command master chief and battalion academics officer. The recipient of a USAA national scholarship, the Notre Dame Naval ROTC Leadership Award and the Chief of Naval Operations Distinguished Midshipman Award, she will serve active duty upon graduation as a commissioned ensign. She will begin flight school in Pensacola, Florida, training to be a Navy pilot. 

A member of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society and Pi Tau Sigma mechanical engineering honor society, La Sala carries a 3.985 grade point average and has been a member of the Dean’s List every semester. 

She spent the summer of 2019 at the University’s London Global Gateway where she studied engineering courses, including Ethics and Professionalism in Engineering. She has served as a teaching assistant in the aerospace and mechanical engineering department and was an elementary and middle school math and reading tutor at the Robinson Community Learning Center

A four-year member of the University’s club field hockey team, she also served as Big Little Commissioner and a Welcome Weekend Ambassador for her residence hall. 

As salutatorian, La Sala will be prepared to deliver a valedictory address should the valedictorian be unable to do so.  

The Notre Dame valedictorian and salutatorian selection process begins by identifying the top four students among those with the highest grade point averages in each college or school. Those students are then invited to complete an application that includes letters of recommendation from faculty members and a draft of their commencement speech. A selection committee interviews finalists and chooses a valedictorian and salutatorian who are approved by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.