Lifted up by the Irish

2004 alum and quality engineer credits Notre Dame for his success in life and lifting.

Jason Lavigne graduated from Notre Dame in 2004. He said he wouldn’t be where he is today if not for the time he spent at the school. 

But where is he today? Well, for starters, he’s got a pretty important job at FCA, or Fiat Chrysler, as a plant supplier quality engineer at the company’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit.

“I’m actually a corporate employee reporting to our Technical Center in Auburn Hills, but stationed at Jefferson North,” he said. “I am responsible for the quality of all current production parts on the Grand Cherokee and Durango.”

He said his areas of specialty are chassis and powertrain, but what he and his colleagues do is more akin to being like the “parts police.”

“It is our job to ensure that our suppliers are building parts to the current engineering specifications and quality requirements,” he said. “If not, it’s our job to rectify the situation, and work to bring the supplier back within the requirements to which they are contracted.”

When LaVigne’s not chasing wayward chassis and powertrain suppliers down, he likely could be found in a local gym preparing to chase more awards as an amateur powerlifter. He said he’s relatively new to the sport—he began training in 2012—but got a big start out of the gate.

The first meet he entered was one held in 2013 in Michigan and he took a third place—a great finish for a relatively new participant.

“It definitely was a learning experience,” LaVigne, now 29, said. And that learning must have paid off because he took the rest of the year by storm, winning the 2013 Amateur American Powerlifting Federation nationals, which qualified him to go to the 2013 Amateur World Powerlifting Congress world championships in Idaho with Team USA, where he also took first place.

He also did well at the 2014 WPC Worlds and APF/AAPF States in early 2015, but had a massive gallbladder attack, which resulted in the removal of his gallbladder, and his lifting took a hiatus. But, once cleared to train again by his doctor, he picked up where he left off and set an AAPF state record and two APF state records, which included a deadlift of 540 lbs., a personal record.

When asked how he got into such a sport, he said he’d always been told he was pretty strong for his size. 

“I spent the summer of 2012 training with a friend of a friend who used to compete in powerlifting, and he thought I should give it a try,” said LaVigne, who competes with his weight at around 175 lbs. “So that coupled with him being convinced I could be competitive in my age and weight division sold me.”

Before powerlifting, LaVigne said hockey was his sport of choice. In fact, wanting to play high school hockey was a big part of what steered him to Notre Dame in the first place. “Notre Dame had reputable junior varsity as well as varsity teams,” he said. “It was my sole athletic focus while I was there.”

LaVigne also played hockey (Division 3 ACHA) while earning his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Oakland University.


Without a doubt, LaVigne is a focused individual no matter what he’s doing. And when discussing what drove him to his numerous accomplishments thus far in a relatively young life, he’s quick to steer the conversation back to his high school experience at Notre Dame.

“I really don’t think I would be as successful as I am today in all aspects of life had it not been for attending Notre Dame,” he said. “Obviously the education has been invaluable, but Notre Dame prepares young people for life on so many other levels. The work ethic I developed while at Notre Dame through academic and athletic avenues has been something I’ve applied in all aspects of life. No matter what I do, I do it with a full effort.”

Playing hockey there, he said, taught him to always “be coachable,” or in other words, to always have an open mind to others who are trying to help make you better. 

“Notre Dame also instills in you the values and morals necessary to develop and grow in life to be a good, respectful man,” he added. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the time spent attending Notre Dame.”

Recalling specific classes or experiences at Notre Dame, LaVigne gives props to nearly every class and teacher he had at Notre Dame. “But any of my math classes, physics classes, and drafting class would have to be included in a list of favorite classes, all of which applied to my college major and career path,” he said.

“Actually, the best parts of my life so far were in the halls of the Fighting Irish. It was such a well-rounded enjoyable experience for me.”

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy

Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." The Marist Fathers and Brothers sponsor NDPMA's Catholic identity and manages its educational program. Notre Dame is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at