Family Inspires Emily Hallock’s Career Choice

Pierson salutatorian Emily Hallock.

As a child, Emily Hallock was intrigued by her grandfather’s prosthetic leg.

“It always fascinated me,” she said. But her grandfather was a diabetic amputee and underlying health problems made it difficult to use a prosthetic. So, the leg stayed in the corner of the room, untouched.

Now, Emily wants to work in prosthetics design and research, focusing on patients for whom traditional prosthetics don’t work, like her grandfather.

Emily graduated as salutatorian of Pierson High School. She was enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program, a rigorous curriculum recognized worldwide. As part of the program, she wrote a 4,000-word extended essay about the history of prosthetics in WWII.

She’s headed to Duke University in the fall, planning to major in either mechanical or biomedical engineering. She said she’s looking forward to getting to know people who share her passion for prosthetics. She wants to get involved in Duke eNable, a student-run organization that uses 3-D printing technology to create prosthetics for amputees free of charge, and DEID–Duke Engineers for International Development, an organization which travels overseas to complete engineering projects with under-served communities.

Emily is also excited to meet people from diverse backgrounds who’ve had different experiences from her.

Despite her eagerness to start college, she said she will miss the sense of comradery she felt with her peers at Pierson High School.

“Pierson is such a tight-knit community,” she said. “When one of us succeeds, we all succeed.”

At Pierson, she said she learned the importance of having an “authentic community,” and how to “building relationships” with her peers and teachers. These are values she’ll bring with her to Duke. She added that the IB students were particularly close.

Upon finding out she had been named salutatorian, she said she felt honored. “I felt excited,” she said. “It’s nice to be receiving recognition for my hard work: all the all-nighters, everything I put into it.”

She attributes her academic success to her “eagerness to learn,” and a “want to understand what’s being taught to me.” She said she’s genuinely interested and passionate about what she learns.

Reflecting back on her high school experience, she said one of her favorite classes was IB Environmental Systems and Societies because of its hands-on nature. She said the class was often able to go out in the field and collect samples, do presentations and spend time in the local environment.

“We were able to make the class our own,” she said, rather than following a strict textbook curriculum. Emily said she enjoys such creative freedom. “I like to do my own things,” she said.

A close second was IB physics, which she found interesting and challenging.

Emily was the class of 2019’s treasurer. She was on the cheerleading team and head of tutoring for the National Honor Society. She used her enthusiasm for working with kids while mentoring students in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Emily’s favorite memory of high school was the last day of school, when her class set up a slip and slide down Pierson Hill. She said she’s excited for graduation, and a little nervous, saying she wants her graduation speech to be “authentic” to herself.

“I want it to feel right,” she said.

After graduation, she’s headed to Africa for 15 days with the American Foundation for Children with AIDS.  She’ll help build a school, granary and help with gardening, she said. The rest of the summer she’ll be working at an ice cream shop in town.