By Hannah Diles |
The Emlaw siblings have a common touch point: a love of computer science where logic and creativity merge to solve problems and intricate puzzles.
Brandon (’18) and Matthew (’21) were drawn to Harding by the academic opportunities and community atmosphere. They both began their careers at ArcBest Technologies in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Brandon built and maintained software for shipment visibility and tracking while Matthew continues to work with software that schedules pickup appointments. Their younger siblings, senior Nick and sophomore Rachel, followed in their footsteps, each majoring in computer science. All four have created a lasting impression in the department and around campus. Their chosen field remains a common bond among the siblings, and their Harding education has equipped them for the professional world.
Brandon values the environment Harding created to nourish his curiosity, building a strong foundation for the future.
“I chose computer science because it’s an amazing way to combine designing an elegant structure, solving complex problems, and seeing your ideas come to life,” Brandon says. “Computer science is a critical skill in the modern world, and there are so many different ways we can contribute to improve people’s lives. My time at Harding gave me not only a foundation for a successful career but also memories that will last a lifetime.”
Matthew is grateful for mentors who invested in him, enriching the quality of his education.
“The main reason I came to Harding was because I was looking for a school that had both a strong Christian background and strong academics,” Matthew says. “What made Harding stand out to me was the outstanding faculty in the computer science department. Those four years are a time that I will always remember very fondly and, without a doubt, played a pivotal role in the person I am today.”
From childhood, the Emlaws were strongly oriented toward STEM fields by their parents, Michael and Theresa, who work in meteorology and actuarial science. The Emlaws were home-schooled in elementary school, and special emphasis was placed toward their interest in technology, programming and numbers. In high school, they participated on the robotics team.
Rachel’s programming experience and a visit to Harding’s campus inspired her to pursue computer science.
“In my middle school math class, I learned how to do some simple programming on my calculator,” Rachel says. “I joined the robotics team in high school. Later, my family and I came to visit Harding, and I sat in on one of Matthew’s computer science classes, and I just knew that’s where I wanted to be. Computer science is something I enjoyed and was pretty good at.”
Moving into their college years, the siblings were able to maintain strong friendships with each other while growing in their own interests and talents. They have all been a part of the American Sign Language club, and Brandon and Matthew were active in the Honors College and Chi Sigma Alpha social club. Nick is a member of Rome social club as well as a beau for Regina. Rachel is part of the Harding University Choir and is a member of Chi Omega Pi social club.
Nick believes having siblings at Harding and in the same department enabled him to grow individually from strong roots in his family.
“It’s been nice having my siblings around to spend time with them and talk things through,” Nick says. “We’ve made a good balance of maintaining quality friendships on campus while branching out and exploring our own unique interests. Having siblings in the same department is a good support system, and we can discuss previous classes, professors and learning styles to be prepared for what we are studying. We’ve become really good friends who share the same interests that we can bond over long distance or in person.”
Dr. Tim Baird, chair of the computer science department, attests to the character of each of the Emlaw siblings and expresses gratitude in establishing a mentoring relationship.
“The Emlaw siblings have been a joy and a delight to have in class,” Baird says. “I have been blessed to be their teacher, department chair, small group leader, brother in Christ, friend and huge fan of the entire family. Each sibling is unique and has their own personality and interests, yet all share a common core of the best traits that we all desire in our own children. I admire their parents and the wonderful job they have done in raising outstanding, well-rounded, individual and unique Christian servants.”