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On the court or in the lab, Nathaniel Boyd drives for success

The Milton Hershey Senior balances High School, basketball, college and work in a cancer research lab.

HERSHEY, Pa. — Teamwork: it`s the essence of success. 

Whether applied on the court or in the research lab, teamwork brings great minds together to achieve greater goals.

Like winning a basketball a championship or finding a cure for cancer.

Nathaniel Boyd is a member of two different teams, each dedicated to reaching their goal.

Whatever the phrase 'perfect teammate' means to you, Nathaniel Boyd is determined to epitomize it.

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"[I'd say it's] definitely daring, definitely taking chances because I don`t take calculated chances," says Boyd.  "I calculate what is going to happen."

That is a driving formula he`s been working on since he grew up in south Philadelphia.

"It`s a different kind of grit that you have coming out of south Philly, so that grit was built in Philly, but the channels where I expressed it were inappropriate," he says. 

Enter the Milton Hershey School and the Spartan basketball team, where the senior`s determination has turned heads since arrived on campus.

"We have had some really good ones," head coach Mark Zerbe says with smile.  "But I don`t that I have had anybody as motivated as Nathaniel Boyd!"

"He is pretty special."

Both on the court and in the lab.

Whether it is taking meticulous notes, preparing samples, Nathaniel is kept busy as a research lab assistant at the Penn State Cancer Institute working along side Dr. Nancy Lill.

"Nathaniel isn't acting like a research assistant at the high school level.  We are treating him like he is one of our graduate students in the lab," says Dr. Lill. 

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The focus is finding therapies for triple negative breast cancer and other hard to treat cancers that don`t respond to other medical procedures.  

It's a challenge Boyd is willing to take on just like any opponent on the court.

"As a player, I am always looking at us for a way to improve," says Boyd. "So in life I am always looking at those holes and how could we fill them with the most positive efforts."

According to Coach Zerbe, Nathaniel just sees thing differently. 

"He sees the big picture again with being a real forward thinker and he is doing all the right things. He is completely unselfish and that is such a lost trait anymore." 

Boyd's typical day begins at 5:00 a.m. with a workout alongside a personal trainer.

That is followed by classes at Milton Hershey and basketball practice for two hours after school.  

Sprinkle in classes at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, where he is raking in the college credits plus 12 hours a week in the research lab.

Simply put, Nathaniel is one busy "Boyd." 

"I just cannot have basketball and then everything else that I am doing," he says. 

"I love basketball dearly and basketball has taught me a lot of lessons as well. Being punctual, overcoming adversity... so basketball is more than a game definitely.

The reason I keep doing everything that I am doing is life`s impact, the global impact... it is being able to have a blast."

Making sure that people know Nathaniel Boyd left nothing on the table is important to him. 

"[To] have a legacy before or even long after I am gone," Boyd says is the goal. 

Boyd also says he hopes to never disappoint those who believe in him. 

"(He) feels like one of the trainees I`ve had in the past," says Dr. Lill.  

"But as a graduate student, you develop a relationship that is more like family and it is a long term link. He deserves this in every way."

And that thought is not lost on Coach Zerbe 

"We call it the mill brotherhood ... You don`t want to disappoint the brotherhood." 

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"Are you willing to be a good teammate? Nate is a great teammate and a great leader for us," says Zerbe.

Boyd just wants to return people's trust in the best way he knows how: With hard work.

"I realize it's not only for me that I'm doing it [for]. It is for all the people that invested their time in me; to give up now would make them look bad.

So, I want to make sure investing in me is the best place where your stock is going to be in the green."

And, you can be sure that Nathaniel Boyd is not afraid of failure. 

"I have been defying odds since I came out of Philly. So if there is a way I`ll find it."

And nobody doubts Nathaniel Boyd.