May 21, 2022

We’ve been fortunate to have so many accomplished and interesting people walk through our doors. Every month, IEA highlights one of our program alumni to let the community know what they’ve been up to. This month, we caught up with 2008 CDB alum, Nathaniel Bernstein.

What are some educational, personal and professional highlights and/or accomplishments of yours since graduating from high school?

I’ve been lucky to spend most of my time since graduating from high school as a student. At Harvard College, I was mentored by amazing professors in the history department, read lots of old books in archival libraries, helped to create an honor code system, and met friends with interests from astrophysics to Slavic literature that I still keep in touch with. I then spent a year at the University of Cambridge, where I donned long black robes for candlelit dinners in centuries-old halls, traveled across Europe, and lived with other graduate students from all over the world. I am now in my final year at Stanford Law School, where I have worked in legal clinics, interned for a federal judge, and learned how to use Zoom! None of this would have been possible without the support of the IEA team (particularly Bonnie!) and the CDB Scholarship while I was in high school.

What is a favorite IEA/CDB memory?

During high school, the CDB Seminar was a major highlight of my year. I loved getting to know the other scholars, learning about their interests, and hearing about their experiences in high schools across the country. We always had a good time together, whether we were wandering the Freedom Trail in Boston, scavenger-hunting through the San Diego Zoo, making ourselves sick tasting variations of Coke at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, or exploring the laboratories of Silicon Valley startups. We had a great time during off hours, too. My best memory is from one night during my first Seminar, when the freshman cohort of Scholars stayed up together into the early hours of the morning getting to know each other in the hotel’s emergency stairwell. Eventually, we were sent to our rooms by hotel staff responding to noise complaints. The Scholar community includes a wide range of clever, curious people, and it was so much fun to get to know them for the first time.

What words of wisdom would you pass on to current IEA students?

First: value relationships with the advisers and mentors that you will meet as members of the IEA community. As a CDB Scholar, Bonnie Raskin was my most important counselor and confidant from high school placement onward, and our monthly email correspondence became my greatest impetus for self-reflection and greatest source of support. Students across IEA programs have access to incredible mentors and should seek out the transformative relationships they can form with those mentors.

Second: invest in relationships with other students within the IEA community. As a CDB Scholar, I met curious and compelling high school students from all over the country, and I know the same can be said for participants in other IEA programs. You never know when the people you meet through IEA will reappear in your life. For example, I reconnected with a fellow CDB Scholar on a backpacking trip in college, and we became (and are still) close friends. That wouldn’t have happened were it not for our initial introduction through IEA.

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