Meet Rio Salado College’s Student Senator Emma Harlow


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Thursday, October 21, 2021
photo of Rio Salado College student senator Emma Harlow with text: 2021-2022 Rio Salado College Student Senator Emma Harlow

Meet Rio Salado College’s Student Senator Emma Harlow

Rio Salado College Student Senator Emma Harlow’s path to post-secondary education arrived amid a global pandemic and a sense of uncertainty.

Like fellow Class of 2020 graduates, she finished her time at Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School remotely and without most of the pomp and circumstance afforded seniors.

“I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do after high school,” she said. “My stepmom got me started looking for places and Rio Salado is right down the street from my house. She took classes from Rio Salado, too.”

Today, Harlow stands closer to her goal of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in political science thanks to her time at Rio Salado. Her interest in the field started in high school, where she took part in activism and served as vice president of the school’s Young Democrats club.

She learned about the Student Senate opportunity one day while “bored.”

“I just looked at the tabs on the Rio Salado website and I saw the Student Senate page,” she said. Shortly afterward, the college sent out a student-wide email about the application process for 2021-20 Maricopa Student Senate.

“I thought, ‘I might as well throw my hat in the ring and see what happens,’” she said. She received a call while on a solo vacation and set up an interview. During a later trip with her sister she received news that she would be Rio Salado’s representative this year.

“So all these good things happen on my vacation,” she said.

The Maricopa Student Senate’s new representatives took part in orientation in August and held their first meeting in September.

“I really enjoy being involved in school life,” Harlow said. “We did a lot of activism at my school, a gun reform walk out, a voter registration field trip to the capital. I enjoyed my time so much being VP of Young Dems that I wanted to do it in college. It’s a good introduction to the life I want to live.”

It will also give her an indication if she wants to continue down her chosen career path.

“I absolutely adore it and we have only just really started,” she said of her recent Maricopa Student Senate experience. “It was a step in the right direction for what I want to do. I was gung ho.”

Harlow is also active in PTK (Phi Theta Kappa), Rio Salado College’s Honors Society, and the group’s Honors in Action project. She’s also applying to take part in this year’s Student Public Policy Forum.

Harlow hopes her future will take her to the University of Arizona in fall 2022. Beyond that? She envisions a career path where she serves her community as a government teacher, immigration lawyer or maybe a member of the ACLU legal team.

Rio Salado, Harlow notes, provides a place for her to discover her path and explore her interests while she makes final decisions.

“It is very freeing because it is online. I can figure out what I want to do,” she said.

To reach Emma, email