Norwich’s 2016 valedictorian overcame disappointment, stayed focused on his goals

Logan Morrison, the 2016 valedictorian for Norwich University, stayed focused and shifted his goals when he discovered he could not join the military.

Logan Morrison, the 2016 valedictorian for Norwich University, stayed focused and shifted his goals when he discovered he could not join the military.

Every school year, the top senior in the class is given the great honor of being the valedictorian, the person who has achieved the highest GPA grade of the class and met a number of other academic criteria.

This year’s valedictorian is Logan Morrison, whose story is one of overcoming adversity and disappointment in being passed up by both the Marine Corps and U.S. Navy for scholarships. But he never quit, and after experiencing failure he learned from it, putting his head down and taking on the mindset that “it was not over for me,” Morrison said.

“I think one of the biggest things that helped me achieve all that I have is self-discipline.” said Morrison, a 22 year-old senior from Amesbury, Mass, who majored in computer security & information assurance with a concentration in digital forensics.

During his time at high school and at Norwich, he said he developed study habits to help him through academics, and one of the things he did was martial arts training to develop this and as a stress reliever.

But he said he also wanted to be a well-rounded person who got involved in extracurricular work with things that extended past just the academics.

“I failed to do most of these things in high school,” said Morrison. “However, I think the best thing I can say as to how I achieved what I did was finding balance.”

Finding the right balance is a necessity to be successful no matter where you are or what you do, he said.

“Finding my balance was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but it truly allowed me to succeed, so I would have to say I achieved what I did by finding my balance of academics, extracurricular, corps, friends, and sticking to it firmly,” said Morrison.

When Morrison came to Norwich he joined the Corps of Cadets with hopes of gaining a commission in the U.S. Armed Forces, his first choice being commissioning as a Marine Corps officer.

“Being an SMC with all branches represented in the corps, Norwich seemed like a good place to go,” said Morrison.

The Corps of Cadets gives students a rigid structure that develops self-discipline and a way to find balance between the corps and academics. But early on, Morrison faced seeing his military goals sidetracked.

“A few challenges that I overcame was I got denied a Marine Corps scholarship because of my knee and had to pick myself back up from that disappointment.” said Morrison.

This also happened again when he was denied a Navy scholarship for the same reason.

“Adjusting to the corps life was another challenge for me, because I had never experienced anything like it and did not know what to expect,” said Morrison.” Improving my time management skills was another challenge that rookdom presented and that I had to face.”

As a junior, he had to learn how to keep his academics up while also being a cadre in the corps and doing the extracurricular activities he was involved in. Last year he was a staff sergeant/squad leader, this year a 2nd lieutenant/platoon leader.

“I had to learn to be a leader at a level I had never experienced, while also keeping my grades from slipping, and while ensuring that I developed good people that I could be proud of,” said Morrison.

None of that slowed him down and he continued to put his head down and push through any challenges that stood in his way. “I leaned on people in my life who were strong and they helped me through it,” said Morrison. “I reevaluated what I was doing, found something else I was passionate about, and strove to be the best I could in that area.”

The challenge of being cadre, training good people, and getting good grades was by far the hardest, he reflected, looking back. He worked hard to know his rooks, as well as staying ahead of his academics.

Morrison said, “I made them understand that I would always drop everything for them and made sure they knew I was around. I didn’t just say these things, I stuck to them.”

Morrison’s major in computer security was not his initial field. Coming to Norwich, he was a criminal justice major because he wanted to work for a federal agency if ROTC didn’t work out.

“I have always been interested in computing, and I found out that there was a CSIA major for criminal justice students. I was unaware that there even was a CSIA major,” said Morrison.

When he found himself bored being a CJ major and found out about the CSIA major, it gave him a better chance of working for an agency that he wanted, and also allowed him to “pursue topics that I was very interested in and able to use skills that I already had.”

Morrison readily admits he could not be valedictorian without a lot of help from others.

“There have been a great many people who have helped me along my way in my college career. As far as my family goes I would say that I can’t think of a single member of my immediate family who didn’t help me,” said Morrison.

Certainly, he said all of his professors helped tremendously: Dr. Peter Stephenson, Prof. Michel Kabay, Prof. Huw Read, and his history teacher from high school, Paul Jancewicz, who was a great mentor to him.

Also, all of his rook brothers and sisters that helped him along the way and supported him through rough times, and Michelle Kellerman who helped him relax and get through everything.

“Katherine Stanton, then Katherine Proffitt, was my squad leader freshman year. She helped me quite a bit during my first year at Norwich. She taught me much of what I know about leadership and was one of the main people who got me through freshman year. After that, we became very close friends and she continued to help me grow as a person,” said Morrison.

Morrison’s future is wide open; he is currently under contract by the government, which means he has to serve at least two years, and after graduating he is looking to work for either the Federal Reserve Bank in New York or the Department of Defense in a cyber security related role.

“My plans for now are to stay in the government for at least five years. After that I would like to go to the private sector and pursue management level work and hopefully become the CISO of an organization.”

Eventually he wants to move on to teaching, something he has enjoyed and has done in the past, as well as continue his education.

“I am certainly going to pursue at least one Master’s degree and I would ultimately like to pursue my PhD,” said Morrison.

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