In 2017, Estrella Mountain awarded the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award during the college's 25th Anniversary Silver Gala celebration. Designed to recognize alumni who have made remarkable contributions to the college and community, the award will serve to demonstrate the legacy of success of EMCC alumni for past, present and future students.
2017 Distinguished Alumni Award
Mr. Harold Branch
Regional Vice President, LegalShield
Founder, HomeBase Poetry
Harold Branch attributes EMCC as his initial source of inspiration for getting into the communications field. Graduating nearly 20 years ago, Branch went through hard times as a young man. He grew up facing some challenging family situations and became a high school dropout. He came to EMCC through an opportunity to attend the college’s Genesis West program, that allowed students who had dropped out to simultaneously earn a high school diploma while pursuing a college degree. The goal of the program, he said, was “to put students in an environment that would be more conducive to learning than their previous institutions or situations.” It was a very positive experience for Branch; he finished with the high school diploma along with an associate degree in general studies. He went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in communications from Arizona State University.
As someone who tackles things head on and is driven toward success, communications proved to the perfect choice for Branch. He has utilized his knowledge and skills for successful results in both his career and personal pursuits. Professionally, he is the regional vice president for Arizona for the very successful company, LegalShield. He’s also a business trainer and sought after speaker that has toured across the United States and Canada, offering his inspirational perspectives on topics from sales to how to overcome fears.
As a part of Phoenix’s creative community, Branch is the founder of HomeBase Poetry, one of the country’s largest open mic poetry events – the event has been running for more than seven years. He has also been the recipient of numerous awards that highlight his community contributions, including Phoenix’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Living the Dream Award, and the Universal Learning Centre’s Courage in Learning Award.
Branch noted that his time at EMCC was life changing. “The program gave us a chance to experience things we never would have otherwise. In addition to our courses, we got to attend offsite events and see speakers and trainers; it was eye-opening,” he said. It was his communications instructor, late faculty member Cheryl Bradshaw, that really got him interested in the field. “She was mind-blowing and one of my biggest inspirations, along with others like Adolfo Gamez and Pearl Williams.”
“A couple of years ago, I was the EMCC graduation speaker,” he said. “It was an honor for me.” He loves seeing how the campus continues to grow and change. “It’s such a difference from two decades ago when it was just a few buildings,” he said, “now there are even more opportunities for students, and that is thrilling to me.”