Student Spotlights

The SSMV is an exciting and dynamic environment and our students are dynamic as well. Representing 11 different MNPS high schools, our students are not only academically talented and passionate about science but have other interests as well.



Jansen                 Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet High School                   Class of 2014

“Aside from the enormous impact SSMV has had on my understanding and appreciation of science as a whole, it has done even more in four years to help me develop my character. I've gained integrity, reliability, communication, and much more from this program. I often look to the tight-knit SSMV classroom as the single educational entity that has done the most to help shape who I am as a student.”

Does Jansen’s face look familiar to you? As a barista at Ugly Mugs Coffee & Tea, he may have served you a life-saving cup of coffee. He is also an occasional (some might say “part-time”) model for some of East Nashville’s finest antique fashion boutiques. At MLK, Jansen is a member of Model UN and captain of the mock trial team (he was their MVP last year!), while outside of school he is a singer, song-writer, and multi-instrumental musician (he’s guitarist for the new group “Summer Habits”). Jansen was also recently a semi-finalist in the Siemens Competition for his paleo-climate research in the Vanderbilt University laboratory of Jessica Oster, Ph.D.


Mayra                      Hume Fogg Magnet High School                               Class of 2015

“SSMV has given me the opportunity to delve into a world that normally would've been closed off to me, the research and labs people only imagine and see in movies- it's something I actually get to experience.” 

The “down-time” of most SSMV students is filled with sports, music, and any other extracurricular activity they can get their hands on. Meet Mayra, for example: violinist, volleyball player and kick-boxer (for fun), president of the Saber Latino Club at Hume Fogg, and heavily involved in her church. It’s safe to say that Mayra keeps herself busy! This semester, Mayra has started an internship in the laboratory of Vanderbilt University researcher Rene Gifford, Ph.D., who studies speech perception and communication abilities in people with hearing loss.


Roy                             Cane Ridge High School          Class of 2016

“During SSMV I get to experience science and math at a much higher level than I would normally learn at school, and it deepens my understanding of subjects with specified lessons. One of the most important things it has taught me is that science is such a vast subject that understanding it requires me to broaden my perspective of science and the world. At first, I was wavering about my plans for the future and was unsure on what path to take, but SSMV helped me find my passion, engineering.”

A man of many talents, Roy plays cello in both a string ensemble and orchestra, and piano, for fun. Previously, he played tuba for 4 years, and he also composes his own music. Roy also likes any sport that involves a board: skateboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding, for instance. If that were not enough, Roy somehow finds time to volunteer at a local nursing home. At the SSMV, he has impressed us with his talent for sketching and an affinity for engineering projects, such as his current sophomore project where he is part of a team converting a Roomba into a device to spray blood detection chemicals at a crime scene.


Helena                            Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School          Class of 2017

“SSMV not only correlates with and enhances my knowledge of things that I have learned in school, but it has also provided an excellent opportunity for me to grow socially.  I have had the privilege of meeting some wonderful peers from different schools.  It's wonderful to be surrounded by people who enjoy science and math as much as myself.  As a student of SSMV, I have been introduced to many different fields in science and math, thus expanding my knowledge of different career paths.”

Students at the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt clearly have a passion for science and/or math, and MLK freshman Helena is no exception. In middle school, she was a member of both the science club and Science Olympiad, but she also has a keen literary side, and she was editor of her school newspaper. Currently, Helena is a member of the Senior National Beta Club, Destination Imagination, and the Vanderbilt Life program.  In her down time, she enjoys playing role-playing games, listening to music, writing, and drawing.

If you are interested in applying to be a student at the School for Science and Math, see our Prospective Students section or jump straight to the Application Information Page.