Published PISD student earns full ride to Yale

Published PISD student earns full ride to Yale
Posted on 04/10/2018
CTHS senior Elexis Hernandez

by Dwight Henson
PISD Communications

While figuring out life beyond high school may seem like rocket science to some, for CTHS senior Elexis Hernandez, it’s only brain surgery.

“I taught myself to knit to improve my hand dexterity when I figured out I wanted to be a surgeon because you have to start young,” said Hernandez.  “I have big dreams and I’m not going to let anything stop me from them. It doesn’t matter if it takes me ten years because I am going to be a surgeon.” 

Hernandez recently received a full ride to Yale University after having her work published in the Pioneer Research Journal.

“I was actually one of four kids in the U.S. who published. Mine was on the topic of neuroscience,” said Hernandez. “The article that I wrote was called Brains Port: The Effects of Sensory Substitution on Neuroplasticity.” 

Using a sensory substitution device, known as a BrainPort, Hernandez discovered that depriving people of their sight resulted in their visual cortex adapting to process information based on their remaining senses.

“The part that is usually associated with vision-- there was actually research that showed that that becomes activated after you use the BrainPort long enough,” explained Hernandez. “So basically the part of your brain that reads tactile information took over the part that wasn’t being used for visual stimuli.”

Her published work was the result of applying to Questbridge.

“It’s a program that helps juniors prepare themselves for the college application process because it can be kind of daunting, especially if your first generation like I am,” said Hernandez.

Through the Questbridge program, Hernandez paired up with a professor from Hamilton College who helped her develop her research project. After having her research published, she was accepted to Yale with a full tuition scholarship.

While Hernandez is now seeing her dreams come true, she certainly hasn’t gotten there without a fight.

“The world doesn’t stop for anyone and it’s especially not going to stop for someone who doesn’t care enough about themselves to fight for it,” said Hernandez.

She also understands the value in fighting for the world she wants for others by participating in various community service opportunities.

“I think that you can change the world, it just depends on how you look at it,” said Hernandez. “You might not change the world for everyone, obviously. But you can change the world for that person that you are helping and you can change the world for yourself because you are changing your perspective.”

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CTHS senior Elexis Hernandez explains how senses are divided across the brain.
CTHS senior Elexis Hernandez explains how senses are divided across the brain.
CTHS senior Elexis Hernandez explains how senses are divided across the brain.