2024 Tillman Scholar

Kayla Walsh

Harvard Business School

“Bringing light to others has been a guiding metaphor, but now, is a literal aspiration. With recent technological advances, I aspire to bring lifesaving, stabilizing power to globally underserved regions.”

As an Army Aviation officer, Kayla chose to become an Assault Helicopter pilot because of the crew mentality and ability to directly support the ground troops as a team of two pilots and two door gunners. All her most cherished memories in Army Aviation would prove to be a product of the special relationships forged between crew members. Kayla learned to turn rote memory into split-second decisions and detect her crew members’ fear or fatigue not by any visual cues but by different tones and intonations in their voice over the radio. 

After commanding a 260-person Army Aviation company, Kayla decided to follow a passion born a decade earlier while researching literally and figuratively powerless communities in the Kwajalein Atoll under the Fulbright Scholar Program. As the research lead, aiming to alleviate societal, cultural, and structural barriers to upward mobility, she felt powerless against an unstable electrical grid. She experienced first-hand the societal insecurity which can lead to greater regional conflicts, like the ones she would spend the next eight years training to fight from the cockpit of a Blackhawk. Her next mission, beyond Army Aviation, is to bring life-saving power to underserved communities to create societal stability upstream of conflict. 

Now pursuing an MBA at Harvard Business School, Kayla aspires to apply her experience leading in the cockpit in combat environments to achieve strategic impact in the energy industry. After gaining experience in the CleanTech industry through consulting, she intends to scale clean, abundant energy to globally underserved communities.