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Nathan Bekelman — Drawn to medicine and health care at an early age

For an overview of the Northfield graduating class of 2024 please go to the profiles of Alee Reed and Angel Toribo.

Nathan Bekelman — Drawn to medicine and health care at an early age

At 17, Nathan Bekelman already has a resume that college graduates  would envy.

As a sophomore at NHS, he won first place in the state competition for pharmacology and then went on to win the national competition of Future Health Professionals (also known as Health Occupations Students of America), the largest international organization for students enrolled in health and biomedical sciences.

NHS 2024 grad Nathan Bekelman.

He also volunteers in the Emergency Department at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver.

He has an endocrinology research internship at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus using statistical software to study kidney complications from diabetes.

He is doing clinical hours and preparing for state board exams this summer to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.

And Nathan still has made time for the International Baccalaureate track at NHS on the way to an IB diploma, write for the campus digital newspaper the Nighthawk Times, run cross country and track in his first three years (“I’m not athletic – it was mostly for fun!”) and scoop ice cream at his part-time job at Sweet Cow in the Stanley Marketplace near his home in Central Park.

With those credentials, it is no surprise that Nathan this fall is headed to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to major in chemistry on a pre-medicine track. He is keenly interested in both medical research and clinical health care.

“Initially, I volunteered (at St. Joseph Hospital) to get a better sense of what it’s like to work in health care,” he says. “And it only reinforced my interest – I get to talk to nurses and doctors and get advice on what’s it like to work in the hospital.

“I want to have a fulfilling, meaningful job where I can have a direct, observable impact on people,” Nathan explains. “Some of the things that I’ve taken away from the hospital is to understand how the role of a physician extends far beyond just doing procedures … It’s also helping patients get the resources they need and being able to listen and talk to patients.”

With both parents as researchers at CU-Anschutz, Nathan also is drawn to that as a potential career.

“If I did a career in research, I would be able to spend my whole life learning. That is a dream of mine.”

He is personally interested in diabetes research because he is a Type 1 diabetic.

Pointing to his hip device that regulates blood sugar and pumps insulin when needed, Nathan says this kind of technology “makes managing my blood sugar so much easier. I feel an obligation to give back because I’ve gotten so much from this.”

Now that he is graduating, Nathan looks back on his four years and credits his parents, NHS teachers and staff for their inspiration, guidance and support.

“I loved all my teachers. They made learning super engaging.”

He cites an example from his IB History class last year, when his teacher Connor Berry set up an elaborate escape room in the school library “with super complex and intricate clues” to unlock as part of a section on Fidel Castro’s reign in Cuba. “It was fun and I learned a lot from it.”

Nathan’s younger brother is a sophomore at NHS, and he understands how such a big school can be intimidating for entering students. Nathan’s advice?

“Once you find your people, everything is going to be OK.”

(The Foundation for Sustainable Urban Communities gives grants to the Northfield High School International Baccalaureate  program.)

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