"'I’ve taught at Harvard, Dartmouth and Vassar, and I’ve had the privilege of teaching a lot of very bright kids,' said Abigail A. Baird, who was one of Ms. Portman’s mentors at Harvard. 'There are very few who are as inherently bright as Natalie is, who have as much intellectual horsepower, who work as hard as she did. She didn’t take a single thing for granted.' [...]
If she was scheduled to appear on the Letterman show, for example, she would finish her paper early. 'She’s sincerely confident and has a good grasp of her strengths and weaknesses,' said Dr. Baird, and she is wise beyond her years. 'One of things she said was: "It’s weird that there are so many people at Harvard who do amazing things outside the classroom. It just so happens that people like to watch what I do."'"