Recipient Nicholas Morgan walk off football field.Tuscaloosa, Ala. – The University of Alabama Online is proud to recognize distinguished U.S. Air Force veteran Senior Airman Nicholas Morgan as the recipient of its third annual Legendary Service Award. This award signifies Morgan’s extraordinary commitment and unwavering dedication in serving both his country and community.

Morgan comes from a long lineage of service members. In 1999, a week after graduating high school in California, Morgan enlisted in the Air Force and later deployed to regions including South Korea, the Middle East and South Africa.

“I joined the military because there weren’t a lot of options where I come from,” said Morgan. “A poor family, poor neighborhoods, lived in trailer parks.”

In the Air Force, Morgan was part of the Fly Away Security Team and undertook dignitary protection, counter-surveillance and counter-terrorism operations. He earned a V Device for valor in combat, a National Defense Service Medal and recognition for expert marksmanship. He later served as a flight trainer and Security Forces Leader at his home base.

“We are proud to honor Senior Airman Morgan’s distinguished service in the military and continuing commitment to serving his community,” said Dr. Robert Hayes, associate provost for the Office of Teaching Innovation and Digital Education, which houses UA Online. “His perseverance in pursuing a degree through UA Online exemplifies the passionate drive for personal improvement that inspires us to deliver educational opportunities to lifelong learners every day.”

Nicholas Morgan in flight.Morgan was actively serving during the 9/11 attacks and witnessed how the dynamics and perception of the military changed during that period. Morgan said he admired the unity that emerged among people. “You know, you weren’t a Republican or a Democrat or a liberal or a conservative. You were an American, and even the rest of the world responded to us,” said Morgan.

In addition to his military service, Morgan worked on personal and professional development through the Air Force, earning his associate degree in Criminal Justice. The 41-year-old disabled veteran will soon earn his bachelor’s degree from UA in Commerce and Business Administration. As part of the Legendary Service Award, which is open to active-duty and veteran UA Online students, Morgan will receive a tuition grant equal to three 3-credit-hour online courses through UA Online.

Morgan said that when he began to continue his career outside of the military, “I was going up against folks who have formal education, but I don’t, and so that kind of restarted my journey.” The Las Vegas resident researched his options and chose UA Online because he found it the best suited to him.  

Nicholas Morgan and family.Despite having a full-time job with a food distribution company that requires travel, a family including three kids, and keeping a consistent 4.0 GPA, he still finds the time to give back to his community through volunteering. 

“I have a responsibility to go out and help other folks and, for my children, to teach them,” said Morgan. “You know, not everybody has a nice house and a pool.”

Morgan helps through charities such as HopeLink, assisting job seekers with resume creation and interview preparation; Project 150, which benefits homeless youth in Las Vegas; and several southern Nevada food banks, as well as charity events with his local VFW chapter and Masonic lodge. 

Published: November 21st, 2023