Col. Mia Walsh- A Woman of Influence in the Community

  • Published
  • By Lt. Katelin Robinson
  • SBD 3

Col. Mia Walsh, commander, Space Base Delta 3 at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., was invited by the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ms. Donna Duperron, to be the keynote speaker for the annual Women of Influence luncheon, held at Sunrider International on March 16, 2023.

“Having Colonel Walsh as our keynote speaker could not have been a better choice. Ever since I met her at her change of command ceremony last July, I was completely impressed with her and thrilled she accepted our invitation,” expressed Duperron.

The luncheon opened with a brief history from Duperron attributing the 12-year success to Anne Trinh who started the Women in Business program in 2011 and how the event has evolved over the years. Duperron welcomed the 224 attendees, which consisted of local business leaders, past honorees and keynote speakers, women entrepreneurs, and women of influence in the community.

Kirk Rossberg, owner of Torrance Bakery, read Walsh’s bio to the audience before inviting her on stage to deliver her keynote speech.

Walsh discussed her family, who influenced her to join a life of service in the military and how she aspires to be a woman of influence in her community.

“I was raised in Hawaii and when I was eight years old, Astronaut Ellison Onizuka visited my elementary school!" She continued, "he made such an impression on me, we had similar family dynamics, were both from Hawaii, and grew up in the Buddhist faith. He peaked my interest in space and I wanted to be just like him."

She discussed how her parents supported her dream of becoming an astronaut whole-heartedly despite their own humble beginnings.

"Both of my maternal and paternal grandparents migrated from Japan to Hawaii for better opportunities.  My maternal grandfather worked in the sugar cane fields and passed away when my mother was only 4 years old.  Many of my uncles had to quit school to work on the plantation and my mother had a paper route for over 12 years to help the family."

Walsh joined the United States Air Force in 1998, with a nod from her 98-year-old grandmother who said, “you can do anything you want to,” and absolutely supported her dream.

To Walsh, joining the military means, being part of the 1% of Americans who serve their country, belonging to a special group of people who live a life of purpose, integrity, and honor. It means serving with people who love their country and make sacrifices to protect our freedoms, here and abroad.

"As a member of the military we have an obligation to educate our community members, to tell young Americans about what we do, why we do it, and what the military is all about. How can they see a future in military service without hearing from us firsthand in their community?  How can they see a future in the military unless they see themselves reflected in the military?"

Mentorship and giving back are priorities for Walsh while in command here and as she continues her military journey. She concluded her keynote with a quote from Ellison Onizuka, which also happens to be in the U.S. Passport, “Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds…to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.”

She charged the crowd with the last line of his quote, “Make your life count, and the world will be a better place because you tried.”

The event culminated in an awards ceremony recognizing the women of influence in the audience for being a positive force within the community.