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Marisol Valerio – and her alter ego Violet Sin – is driven by passion in her pursuit of higher education and musical inspirations - photo by Martin Dee
Marisol Valerio – and her alter ego Violet Sin – is driven by passion in her pursuit of higher education and musical inspirations - photo by Martin Dee

UBC Reports | Vol. 55 | No. 5 | May 7, 2009

Exploring nature, music with passion

By Brian Lin

Passion underscores everything Marisol Valerio does, be it collecting soil samples by helicopter in the Northwest Territories or playing the violin dressed as her alter ego, medieval fantasy warrior Violet Sin.

The Costa Rican transplant was attracted to B.C. for its natural beauty and diverse culture, and she got everything she had hoped for – on top of an education she says would be “difficult to find elsewhere” in the faculties of Science and Applied Science.

“Geological engineering combines my love of math and physics with my passion for the outdoors,” says Valerio, who’s graduating this month with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree. “People in my field get into it because they enjoy the work. It’s definitely not your average nine-to-five desk job.”

Valerio says the mentors and colleagues she’s met over the past five years are serving society by providing something it needs. “And we’re coming up with knowledge and skills to bring the industry beyond complying with existing regulations but doing what’s best for the environment – because for many of us, our love of nature is why we got into the field in the first place.”

While her studies and co-op placements have taken her from diamond mines in Canada’s Northwest Territories to uranium explorations in Australia, her musical talents have taken her back in time in a variety of genres. Valerio has served as orchestra conductor and performed in four student opera productions and also plays the violin in three bands spanning country, Latin and “folk metal” genres.

On stage, Valerio (a.k.a Violet Sin, her folk metal persona) is joined by fellow UBC students and Scythia band members – Thorgen Hellhammer, Helmut Doomfist, Lady Thundertroll, Savage Tombfiller and the Souleater – as she unleashes the “angel’s harp,” or violin. Their original “battle songs” tell stories of wizards and goblins.

“I’ve been playing the violin since I was four but it wasn’t until I came to UBC that I realized there were so many different ways of expressing myself musically,” says Valerio. “In a way, it sums up my experience here in Vancouver, where you can hear five different languages just sitting on the bus.

“The opportunity to immerse myself in a variety of opinions and traditions and learn from students and teachers from around the world has really broadened my horizon,” she adds. “As an international student, it’s reassuring to see people embracing diversity – I never felt like an outsider.”

With a full-time job already lined up with a Vancouver-based consulting firm, Valerio is looking forward to taking a few days off to visit Hawaii. “Compared to my native Costa Rica, the pace is so much faster here and people are a lot more ‘efficient,’” she says. “Managing time well and keeping a good work-life balance is another valuable skill I’ve learned during my time at UBC.”

To hear Scythia performances, visit the band’s MySpace profile at www.myspace.com/thorgenhellhammer.

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Last reviewed 11-May-2009

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