Name: Valarie Anne Rock
Hometown: Poulsbo, Washington
Why She Chose Mason: Rock, who had never lived anywhere but her hometown before venturing east, says, “Mason seemed like home from the first time I set foot on campus.” At the suggestion of her trumpet coach, she checked Mason out and was impressed by all it had to offer. “The innovative approach to learning convinced me that I could thrive here.” And thriving she is!
What Sets Her Apart: Although it’s only her first year here, Rock is undertaking a large research project to create a device that would replicate the brain’s response to hypnosis, which has been used to treat pain for those suffering from arthritis. “With this, one could control their arthritic pain without medication or the need to be connected to a device with wires.” Because her father required multiple surgeries, Rock spent a lot of time in hospitals while growing up. “Learning about new technologies in health care has always interested me, and, as a gamer and someone who likes to fix things, I have had an engineer’s mindset my whole life.”
What Surprised Her about Mason: Rock has been pleasantly surprised by the support and attention she’s received from her professors, particularly mentor Nathalia Peixoto, assistant professor in the Bioengineering and the Electrical and Computer Engineering departments. “I think it’s wonderful that the professors here encourage students to excel, and not only provide a top-notch education, but go above and beyond by supporting students in their pursuits.”
Plans: Right now, Rock is in the process of receiving permission from the university’s Human Subjects Review Board before beginning research. “I hope to continue learning at Mason, both in class and out,” Rock says. Eventually, she plans to continue on to graduate school for a doctorate in bioengineering.