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Standout paralegal soldier draws on her Samoan heritage

Pfc Theresa Laufasa and officer
1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division

FORT HOOD, Texas — In her first year in the Army, Pfc. Theresa Laufasa is already getting noticed after winning the Paralegal Soldier of the Quarter competition for the 1st Cavalry Division Office of the Staff Judge Advocate in March.

Laufasa, who assists in processing legal actions for two of the battalions in the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, said her culture and strong family ties helped her succeed in the competition.

“I entered the competition to further my military career — to progress,” said Laufasa. “For the competition, you think of your family and people being proud of you, and what the outcome would be.”

During the Paralegal of the Quarter Board March 30-31, soldiers completed an Army Physical Fitness Test; were administered a job knowledge test and writing assignment; and conducted hands-on testing of basic soldier skills on the first day. On the second day, they ruck marched to a weapons qualification range; qualified with their assigned weapons; and then participated in a formal board.

“The competition promotes esprit de corps and assesses the tactical and technical expertise of our paralegal Soldiers,” said Maj. Joseph Venghaus, brigade judge advocate, 1st ABCT, 1st Cav. Div. “At Ironhorse, we have some outstanding Soldiers on our team, and that shows at the division boards.”

Laufasa is proud of her service in the Army, but she is most proud of her family. She has three brothers — Corey, Jeremiah and Darrin. Corey is an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the University of Texas El Paso, Jeremiah is a senior running back for UTEP and Darrin is a sophomore running back at UTEP. Her parents are John and Maria Laufasa.

“We’re very close-knit,” said Laufasa. “When Darrin went to UTEP, the others followed him there. Samoan culture is very family-oriented.”

Before joining the Army, Laufasa served as volleyball captain at Bothell High School in Bothell, Washington and then went on to play at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, on an athletic scholarship. She was a stand-out volleyball player, earning several awards in high school and doing well in college, but left the university after her first year.

“I knew I wanted to be in the military,” said Laufasa. “I wanted some independence and I didn’t want my parents to have to pay for stuff.”

Laufasa said she is proud of her Samoan heritage but won’t be dancing at the brigade’s Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage observance.

“I didn’t have the time to go to the practices,” said Laufasa. “But one of my mom’s best friends from high school is the choreographer for the dance.”

For now, Laufasa plans to compete in the upcoming 1st Cav. Div. Paralegal NCO/Soldier of the Year competition, but after that, she is keeping her options open.

“I want to finish school, see where that takes me,” she said. “I’m thinking about nursing.”