El Camino College Honors Distinguished Women

April 10, 2024 Torrance, CA

Women’s History Month at El Camino College wrapped up with a reception honoring the 2024 Distinguished Women Award winners. A marketplace featuring women-owned businesses and nonprofits was also part of the event. Six honorees were recognized for their community service: El Camino professor Argelia Andrade; the late Jackie LaBouff, dedicated Torrance teacher and community volunteer; El Camino Student Success Coordinator Mele Makalo; Candy Paula, Torrance librarian and singer/songwriter; Rachel Pittock, boxing instructor at El Camino; and Colonel Mia L. Walsh, Los Angeles Air Force Base Commander, El Segundo.

Nominated by friends, family and colleagues, award winners were selected by the college’s Women’s History Month Committee, based on their contributions to women’s and girls’ causes or community service that aligns with this year’s National Women’s History Month theme, “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.” The theme recognizes women throughout the country who understand that, for a positive future, bias and discrimination must be eliminated entirely from our lives and institutions.

The accomplishments of these award winners will be featured on the El Camino College Women’s Wall of Fame (in the Schauerman Library) throughout the year, and their names will be engraved on a plaque that is a permanent part of the display.

2024 El Camino College Distinguished Women

Argelia Andrade is an El Camino College Spanish professor who is dedicated to students’ success and well-being. She served on the MyPATH faculty team, taught in the summer abroad program in Spain, and founded the nonprofit organization Nuestras Raices, which works to promote social justice and create future community leaders.

The late Jackie LaBouff was devoted to helping others through her work as a preschool teacher for Torrance Unified and her community service. She was a member of the League of Women Voters and Torrance Human Services Committee, and led a caregiver group at a memory care facility. She was president and founder of the Widow Friendship Group, and the Human Touch organization.

Candy Paula has served the Torrance community for well over 20 years. As a librarian with the City of Torrance, she works tirelessly to improve literacy and to promote awareness of all the arts – in particular, music. A prolific singer songwriter, she often performs at receptions, fundraisers, coffee houses, and jam sessions throughout the South Bay.

Mele Makalo works as the Student Success Coordinator for the MANA program at El Camino, supporting students of the Pasifika communities by helping them develop life skills, providing them with mental health support, coaching them toward academic success, and guiding them through the transfer process. She also volunteers in the community with a variety of youth education programs.

Rachel Pittock is a boxing instructor at El Camino who promotes both the sport and female athletes. She teaches boxing fundamentals and finds opportunities for her students to showcase their skills. In addition to establishing ECC’s first official Fight Night exhibition, she partners with a gym to offer free training to those who are unable to cover the cost of lessons.

Colonel Mia L. Walsh serves in the United States Space Force as base commander of Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo. In addition to her own exemplary leadership, she contributes to the advancement of women professionals in STEM, in the military, and in the intelligence, security, and defense sectors. She is a role model for young women and advocates for their success.