Heaven Martin: Psychology & Neuroscience at Yale

Heaven Martin’s junior year in high school brought an epitome: she wanted a career in the psychology field. After learning that people of color have disproportionate access to mental health services, and considering that studies have shown that talk therapy in particular can be beneficial to anyone navigating a new stage of life, dealing with stressors, or simply needing a trained ear, she felt her calling. 

“Therapy is not only a good way to deal with the hardships of life but it provides you tools to prevent or manage these hardships. I also want to deter society from thinking that therapy is only for those who are mentally unstable. Therapy teaches skills that can help with an array of situations and many don’t think about this,” she says. 

Heaven, Jimena, and friends enjoying some downtime on campus at Yale

With this newfound vigor, Heaven began to research options to satiate her desire for knowledge. Her search brought her to Summer Springboard’s Psychology & Neuroscience academic track; it immediately clicked. “I knew that this opportunity could give me a sense of career readiness and college campus experience that I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else,” she said. Unfortunately, family funds were tight and it didn’t seem to be in the cards for her the coming summer. 

That all changed when Heaven got an email about SSB’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Scholarship a few weeks later. She rushed to apply. A killer essay and one scholarship award later, she found herself jetting across the country to SSB’s Yale Campus, away from her family for the first time. 

Six Flags New England field trip

Between dissecting a sheep brain to interactive group projects, Heaven stayed busy academically and learned new concepts that brought further insight into the field of psychology. She credits her instructor, Hannah Bernhard M.Sc, with bringing her knowledge to the next level. 

“Hannah gave us so much information but it never felt overwhelming or difficult. She allowed for a lot of questions as well and I feel like she really prepared me for my current AP psychology class,” she says. 

However, the experience brought more than just academic satisfaction: Heaven found that the social and personal growth benefits almost matched those gained in the classroom. She had initially had reservations about flying across the country to spend two weeks with people she had never met.

Turns out, getting out of her comfort zone was a good thing. 

“I no longer feel afraid of not making friends. I know that in time they will come and college is a place to meet people who will like you for you. I also learned about the difficulty of time management as I had to manage a class, a project, and other activities! I also learned about the importance of networking…it can set you up later in life and college brings so much diversity and different networks. I feel more confident about leaving my home and living in a dorm which was a huge fear of mine. I also believed I gained some independence from being away from my family,” she says. “ I was scared to go but also just thinking about spending time at Yale made me feel proud of myself.”

Heaven met Jimena, SSB’s other IDEA scholarship recipient, in the airport en route to Yale, and the two became fast friends.


Both of SSB’s 2023 IDEA recipients enjoying their success

“We still text all the time,” Heaven says. While the two joined different tracks (Jimena’s passions lie in the Pre-Med realm) they found a lot of common ground and their personalities “just clicked.”

Jimena Cervantes: Emergency Medicine at Yale

For Jimena, Yale was also a no-brainer: “It has one of the greatest medical programs in the U.S and SSB had the  Emergency Medicine course at that campus.” Her dreams of becoming a cardiologist were the main drive behind her scholarship application and her choice of campus. 

“I was inspired to apply for the Scholarship as studying medicine has always been my passion. I felt that this program could get me closer to my dream of being a cardiologist or at least make me realize if it’s really what I want. When i first heard about the program i thought it was perfect for me. It was a chance to be independent, to study medicine, etc.,” she says.

In the course of her research, she came across some testimonial videos from former SSB students–this was the tipping point, and she decided to make the leap. 

Heaven’s advice for students considering joining Summer Springboard?

“It will be a life-changing experience. Not only will you have an amazing experience but you will also meet some of the best people of your life. You will also learn so many new things and hear from so many different perspectives. With a program as diverse as SSB, everyone is bound to learn or experience something new.”