Member Highlight: Alex Walsh
Updated: Jun 19, 2021
My name is Alexander Walsh, and I am from Traverse City, Michigan. I am a junior at Harvard College concentrating in government with a focus in public policy with a secondary in economics. I transferred to Harvard from Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) in Traverse City. Before that, I served six years of active duty in the Navy as a Fire Controlman First Class and was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the 5-inch Gun Weapon System aboard the USS Carney (DDG 64). At the time, my ship was stationed in Rota, Spain. Aboard Carney, I also served as the Assistant Public Affairs Officer and held a variety of other collateral duties.
Ever since I was young, I had always loved learning about different cultures. It was my dream to travel the world, but my family at the time could not afford to travel, so I lived vicariously through international students I befriended. My involvement with NMC's International Students Club provided me a window into different parts of the world. When I left for the Navy, I finally had an opportunity to explore places I read about in history books. Suddenly, I was the one that provided my peers a window into different parts of the world. I got to walk around the former grounds of Aristotle's Lyceum in Athens; gaze upon the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt; explore different sites around Jerusalem; and appreciate magnificent Renaissance paintings and architecture in Florence, Vatican City, and Rome. Between my own personal travels and my travels with the Navy, I visited 27 different countries and lived in Spain for about three and a half years.
As amazing as it was to experience World Heritage sites around Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, what struck me the most was witnessing the hardships faced by people in those areas. Although I may have come from a lower-income background, my experience pales in comparison to what others face throughout the world. During one of my ship's deployments, we located and rescued 97 Libyan migrants who had been drifting at sea for two weeks without food or water. Seeing them risk their lives for a chance at a better life taught me a lot about the value of freedom and opportunity.
Serving in the military provided me a lot of time to think about what I wanted to do with my life. At community college, I studied international relations—and after spending six years in the Navy and serving on five Sixth Fleet deployments, my passion for international relations grew stronger. I returned home determined to serve people domestically and abroad.
At Harvard, I am actively involved in several student organizations, including the Harvard Undergraduate Veterans Organization, the Alexander Hamilton Society, the Harvard Undergraduate Foreign Policy Initiative, and Student Veterans of America. I also serve as an Ambassador at Service to School and I am a founding board member at Veterans Inspiring Veterans (VIV), an organization that partners with Northern Michigan for Veterans to empower and support veterans. In September 2019, VIV hosted the Veterans Inspirational Art Show that exhibited the artistic talents of veterans from across Northern Michigan and around the United States. Each of these organizations has given me the opportunity to develop myself and, more importantly, help me use my passion for helping others.
After graduation, I plan on applying to law school and MBA programs with the hope of pursuing a career in public service. Outside of school, I enjoy art, creative writing, hiking, photography, playing sports, practicing piano, and visiting different coffee shops. I am excited to travel again soon.