Ex-Marine Tim Walsh has straddled elephants in Thailand, scaled Machu Picchu, defended U.S. embassies in Kenya and Uruguay, and now lives in Tijuana.
His favorite corner of the world, though, is the new Veterans Resource Center at Southwestern College.
Walsh, president of the Student Veterans’ Organization, helped open the new center last semester. He said he is very happy student veterans now have a quiet sanctuary on campus.
Patti Larkin, director of Financial Aid Evaluations and Veterans Services, said she is glad to have Walsh.
“He is the kind of president that we had always hoped to have for the SVO,” she said. “He is intelligent, disciplined, talented, dynamic and enthusiastic. He is a real leader.”
Fall 2013 was a momentous time for the SVO, said Larkin. Besides the grand opening of the Veterans Center, the SWC Foundation dedicated its fall gala to veterans scholarships and raised $15,000.
“Becoming president of the SVO was a wonderful opportunity,” Walsh said. “There are always going to be opportunities presented to you in life. How you take advantage of those opportunities determines your level of success.”
Walsh said he did not expect to like college and had avoided it since high school in the suburbs of Centreville, Virginia where he played football.
“School was a challenge that never interested me,” he said. “Now I am in community college using my Marine Corps professional experience to help other veterans.”
Walsh enlisted in the Corps and enrolled in the Marine Security Guard program to provide security for U.S. embassies. He served in Montevideo, Uruguay and Nairobi, Kenya. Although it was dangerous work, he said, his training prepared him well.
“Everything was a heartbeat away from becoming mortally dangerous,” he said. “However, most of the things we dealt with were drunken protestors, anti-American sentiment and foreign intelligence officers trying to recruit us.”
Walsh said he found these experiences and the new cultures thrilling.
“I was looking for something different to what life would be like in Ohio,” he said.
It was in Uruguay that he met UCSD graduate student Elizabeth Esparza. Walsh befriended her and kept in touch over the years. After she finished school and he was discharged from the Marines, they were married.
Esparza said she and Walsh are proof that opposites attract.
“He was this fun, wild, outgoing guy while I was more shy, reserved, and introverted,” she said.
“We grew up together and matured. We are both at a time in our lives where we have found comfort in stability. Our idea of a good time now is walking our dogs on the beach.”
After the Marines, Walsh moved to Washington D.C. and worked for the State Center for Strategic Counterterrorism, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration. Esparza worked for the U.S. State Department as a foreign services officer.
They eventually moved to Tijuana, where the Virginia native was introduced to Mexican culture by Esparza’s family.
Walsh confesses to a wild side and has a love for underground metal bands like Tool, Pig Destroyer and Deafheaven.
After this semester Walsh will leave SWC and Tijuana for an undisclosed location due to his wife’s job. He said he will miss street tacos, tortillas, the beach, his favorite spot in Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe wine country and the friendly, diverse people of Tijuana and San Diego County.
“I really felt like a part of this community. I think that says something more about the South Bay than about me.”