Spotlight Series: Emily Harmon
December 11, 2018
Palo Alto College's annual scholarship fundraiser, ¡Una Nueva Celebración!, raised over $1,000,000 in committed funds to directly support students, faculty, and staff in continuing their education. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) gave five full-ride scholarships (tuition, room, and board) for Palo Alto College students to attend UTRGV upon completing their associate degrees. Emily Harmon was selected as one of the scholarship recipients.
Like some first-time college students, Emily Harmon struggled with putting her pride aside and asking for help. However, after struggling on her own, Harmon realized the benefits of asking for help, and she highly encourages all people to ask for help when needed.
"As humans, we like to think everything is all on us when it's really not," said Harmon. "We're surrounded by people for a reason. You're not alone, even if you think you are."
Originally from San Diego, Harmon attended a community college for three years after high school. She struggled in school, not knowing where to seek help or what questions to ask. When her parents moved from the area, Harmon had no choice but quit school and relocate to San Antonio with her mother, in hopes to save enough money to return back to college.
A year and half passed before she chose to attend Palo Alto College. Influenced by her financial struggles, Harmon studied Biology back in California because she thought it could make her a lot of money; however, with a fresh start in San Antonio, she decided to pursue her true passion of teaching English and writing stories.
Harmon said that the faculty and staff at Palo Alto College helped her find answers to questions she didn't even know to ask. Her experience has given her the courage to ask for help when she needs it and changed her outlook on higher education and life.
"I feel like the advisors care more here," said Harmon. "I struggled a little bit during [my time in San Diego], but here it's been easier getting help."
She immediately found success at Palo Alto College. As her grades began to rise, so did her confidence in herself. She mentioned that earning a college education would play a tremendous role in how she would achieve her goals of starting a career using an English degree.
"I feel like I was meant to go to PAC," Harmon said. "[My education] is my main avenue for getting to where I want to be in life."
Harmon said Palo Alto College has provided her the resources to get her to her next step, including the opportunity to receive a full-ride scholarship from UTRGV.
"I'm still trying to get over the fact that it happened to me," said Harmon. "I'm still kind of blown away by it right now. It just means that I finally know where my next step is going to be."
Her dreams range wide and long, as does her love for teaching and traveling. Getting an education will open up more doors and opportunities for her to pursue a career that will allow her to travel.
"To start, I want to be able to teach English abroad in foreign countries," Harmon said. "I've always wanted to travel, and I think that's the best way to do it, because while you earn an income, you also get the chance to explore those cities and meet people from there."
UTRGV committed $815,000 in total to support the five full-ride UTRGV scholarships for graduating PAC students – Ellen Galindo, Taylor Ponce, Emily Harmon, Jonathan Guillen, and Gabino Olalde – while also committing 150 scholarships for employees to use toward their master's and doctoral degrees from UTRGV, funding for five research assistantships, and an additional $25,000 donation to the general PAC Scholarship Fund to support students currently attending Palo Alto College.
Funding provided through valuable partnerships, such as with UTRGV, provides scholarships to help Palo Alto College students attain their educational goals. The Alamo Colleges Foundation facilitates over 40 scholarship opportunities, which students attending Palo Alto College or anywhere in the Alamo Colleges District can apply for with a single application. The 2019 scholarship application will open on Jan. 7, 2019. To learn more, visit alamo.edu/pac/scholarships.