On the Right Track

Locomotive engineer. Historic preservationist. Graduate student. Lawyer. Nathaniel Guest is all of these and more. And his personal path to success runs right through the hallowed halls of Temple Law.

As a non-traditional student, Nathaniel fit right in at Temple Law. Even before coming to Temple, he successfully created and completed an individualized course of study at Cornell in American Material Culture. After graduation from that program, he became the director of Cornell Tradition, a stewardship program that repays student loans in exchange for volunteer work and student employment.

When the Pennsylvania native began to contemplate a law degree, his thoughts naturally turned to Temple. “Temple was a wonderful fit,” he explains. “It was close to home, and I knew I wanted to practice in Pennsylvania … looking back, it was perfect. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

But Temple’s great location wasn’t its only advantage. The skills Nathaniel learned at Temple Law through participation in the Integrated Transactional Program have already enabled him to draft the bylaws of the Pennhurst Preservation Project, an organization dedicated to the preservation of Pennhurst State School and Hospital in Spring City, PA. Since then, Nathaniel has used his Temple Law skills to successfully apply for 501(c)(3) (nonprofit) status for that organization and to launch a second nonprofit, Keystone Marker Trust, which will help Pennsylvania communities restore and build educational programs around WWI-era cast iron town signs located throughout the Commonwealth. And because he is a Temple Law alumnus, Nathaniel finds that when he speaks, his words carry the weight and credibility of someone who has proven his ability to think critically about all sides of an issue.

Like many Temple Law graduates, Nathaniel has balanced life as a lawyer with the outside interests that make him such a unique person. Many weekends, he can be found at the helm of the Strasburg No. 90, the steam locomotive on which he is a part-time engineer. For Nathaniel, the railroad is a “lens through which we can see how much America has changed and grown. It has touched so many aspects of life in the past – town planning, job opportunities, even diet and family structure.”

Nathaniel is equally passionate about historic preservation. “Preservation is a counter to a culture of impermanence,” he says. “It forces us to think about what we are losing. There is a certain parallel between taking an interest in things that have fallen by the wayside and thinking about what it is we value.” In fact, during his second year at Temple Law, Nathaniel received approval to once again follow his own path in pursuing a Masters of Historic Preservation and Planning at Cornell while remaining enrolled at Temple Law. The dual degree program was challenging, but worth it. Nathaniel cites the support of the faculty, in particular Professor Rick Greenstein and Professor Nancy J. Knauer, and the personal support he has felt from the Dean of Students, Marylouise Esten, as vital in enabling him to meet his goals.

And meet them he has. Nathaniel’s law review article, titled Putting History on a Stone Foundation: Toward Rights for Historical Property, was selected as a winner of the prestigious Burton Award, which recognizes the best legal writing from across the nation each year. In addition, his time at Temple has given him the skills to lead the Pennhurst Preservation Project and Keystone Marker Trust forward in their missions. And as for where his personal journey will lead next, thanks to Temple Law, Nathaniel sees opportunity in every direction he looks. No matter what path he picks, one thing is sure: with his J.D. from Temple Law, Nathaniel Guest is on the right track.