Rocky Marks


Hometown: Mount Vernon, Washington

What is something you wish everyone knew about your major? Two things: 1) People in psych are not analyzing you all the time! I get this at parties a lot. I promise, people are so much more complex than they give themselves credit for, so nobody in psych gets a great picture of a person based on day-to-day banter. 2) So much of our damaged relationships, and our mental health conditions, relate to miscommunication. A lot of what we know about mental health disorders relates to social influences. We are social animals, after all. It's no coincidence some of the healthiest people with solid and stable relationships are skilled communicators.

What was your most impactful class or professor? My most impactful professor has definitely been my advisor, Dr. Keyne Law. When I started grad school, I was very focused on forensic psychology. That was my main goal and passion. But I read an article of Keyne's in a past class and it seemed so interesting and complex. Back then, a lot of it went over my head, but what I could read was a ton of what could best be described as craftsmanship. There was a degree of intellectual curiosity, as is in many papers, but Keyne's work has this artisanal quality that resonated with me. That sense has been true in her classes and in her lab, and what it passed on to me was not only this love of knowledge, but this strong sense of what you DON'T know. Knowing what others know that you don't has been so exciting for me because not only do you gain such respect for others' points of view, you open yourself up to learn from other people. Then, if learning is fun, then everyday is pretty fun as well. That's the biggest lesson I've learned from being Keyne's advisee.

What are you excited for in your future career? I am moving into a postdoctoral position at Personal Injury Evaluations, Inc. It is a private practice specializing in forensic evaluations for the courts, particularly those in personal injury cases. This field is where I hope to build my career, and there are a lot of exciting aspects about this work. It truly is social justice work in a very real sense, as you are part of the process by which some of the most disadvantaged people in the world get their cases heard. Some potentially receive money for therapy, and those that do are often of such restricted socioeconomic status that therapy was never an option for them. It is exciting to play a role in the justice system in that sense. The private practice setting means growing a business, which is also exciting to me. Joining a community that is very passionate, incredibly smart, and dedicated to their field is also one of the things I am most excited about. Finally, continuing to learn and grow in a profession I really care about is exciting to me.

What advice do you have for incoming students? So much that was meaningful about both my college and grad school experience was technically optional. I lucked out in many respects that I had mentors who told about opportunities available to me — research teams, TA positions, trainings, and more — but it is safe to say some of the most meaningful parts of education are available if you ask for it. What often gets in the way of that is this imposter syndrome, this desire to not be bothersome and not seem naïve or inexperienced. However, this flies in the face of the reality of education: this is your time to be intellectually curious, hungry for experience, and excited by the opportunities available to you. It is not your time to have to come off like you know everything or are competent in skills you haven't been trained in. So, my advice is this: pursue everything you can and fight back against any part of you that says you cannot because you are insufficient.

How have you grown during your time at SPU? Immensely. I was a student at SPU during my 10-year wedding anniversary. I was a student at SPU when my first child, a daughter, was born. I was at SPU during hard times in my life and good ones. It is a cliché, but your education goes by so quickly, during the period in your life when things are dramatic and subject to change. So, my personal growth has happened not only in the big impactful moments, but the little ones as well — the day-to-day experience of learning here at SPU. The skills that SPU and my professors, advisors, and supervisors gave me are invaluable.