Pirate grad comes through BIG for Highline High School Alumni Foundation


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Highline High School Alumni Michael Walsh has made a gigantic financial pledge to the school’s Alumni Foundation – $100,000 per year for five years beginning in 2019!

This amount is on top of the $20,000 he already gives annually. The entire amount will be used for college scholarships for Highline seniors.

Walsh is a 1977 Highline High graduate.

“I’m thrilled and ecstatic,” said Foundation President Gary Korsgaard, a 1964 Highline graduate. “This is just a super opportunity for us to help more students. We had a goal to expand our program and it has come true. Michael Walsh is truly an amazing individual.”

Walsh was the 2017 Highline High School Alumni of The Year. For his part, he says this is his way to give back to the community where he was raised.

“It’s the best feeling in the world to give back to others,” Walsh commented. “I want to help kids with vision to better themselves and the world. The last thing we need is to have our best students not make good decisions in their lives because of financial needs. Also, it’s much more fun to give money while you’re alive so you can see the good being done.”

Walsh gave the Alumni Foundation credit for building trust with donors. 

“The Foundation has done a great job with selecting kids, so that gives me and other donors faith that our dollars will be spent wisely,” he said. 

The Foundation started in 1995 and offered one $500 scholarship. In 2018, it gave out 23 scholarships worth $67,000. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded a total of 341 scholarships worth $618,000.    

Walsh was what he called a “boss nerd” while in public school in Burien. In ninth grade, he rode his bicycle from Sylvester Junior High to Highline High School to take all available calculus and science classes. Once he completed these, he attended Highline Community College for advanced classes while still in high school.

He attended Cal Tech and quickly found that he was no longer the smartest guy in the room. “The whole place was populated with boss nerds from their high schools,” he laughed. “I liked that, and I wanted to learn how to hang in that room!”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Cal Tech, he earned a master’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern. While working on his doctorate at Northwestern, he discovered the personal computer. “I just blossomed from there,” he said. “I realized what a powerful tool this would be.” The doctorate went by the wayside and he was involved in six startup tech companies – all unsuccessful. The seventh was a home run: He was one of the founders of Coupons.com, which has since been acquired by Quotient Technology. Walsh is just starting retirement and looking forward to more philanthropy.

Walsh currently funds four scholarships through the Alumni Foundation: A $5,000 scholarship in the name of retired Highline teacher Don Bunger, targeted at students with a science and engineering bent; and three $2,500 scholarships in the name of his parents, Roger and Linda Walsh, for students moving into vocational careers.

“I owe so much to my parents, who sacrificed a lot to help me fund my education, and to the community as a whole that supported my education,” Walsh concluded.

Donations may be made by check to the Foundation at P.O. Box 66647, Burien, WA 98166 or on the organization’s web site at http://www.highline-highschool-alumni-foundation.org/.




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