Chalice Carter made a life-changing decision Monday.

The Manhattan High School senior decided where she will attend college, although she hasn’t revealed it just yet.

After being accepted into a total of nine schools, the aspiring dermatologist said last week she narrowed it down to two Ivy League universities: Princeton and Yale.

“The academics were my first priority, making sure I get the most out of my education,” Carter said. “And then also financial aid played a big part in it. Location, I wanted to be closer to the northeast because I have family up there. I knew I was going to have to branch out from Kansas, but I wanted to still be somewhere where I would have people close to me that I could count on.”

On Friday, she will make her announcement at the Manhattan Boys and Girls Club, an organization the 18-year-old joined almost three years ago.

“She’s been accepted into several Ivy League schools and is announcing her choice in front of her BGC peers and staff that evening,” said Trent Jones, club executive director. “Similar to a ‘signing night’ for an athlete.’”

Carter, who plans to study molecular and cellular biology before medical school, applied to a total of 12 schools. University of Pennsylvania, Howard University (a “Black Ivy League” school), Stanford University, and University of California — Berkley, among others, accepted her. Harvard, Brown and Columbia waitlisted Carter.

Carter, sitting at a 4.46 grade point average with room to grow, will close the chapter on high school with graduation in a few weeks. She has a busy summer ahead. Recently chosen as the Kansas Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Carter will compete at the regional level on May 25.

Manhattan club director of operations Pamela Green Nealey said Carter, who is a club program leader, shines above the rest.

“Watching Chalice grow, I already knew she was a winner,” she said. “I just did.”

After winning the local title, Carter learned in March that she won the Kansas title, which provided her with a $2,500 scholarship. The state judges select the winner based on an application with a resume that includes GPA and involvement information, three essays and a performed speech.

“There were a lot of good contestants and very worthy people I was going up against,” she said. “When I was sitting in the office, and they said that I was the youth of the year, I was just really shocked, and I couldn’t believe it for quite a few seconds.”

She said she is a little nervous ahead of the next competition but said she is preparing and getting ready. If Carter wins the regional, she gets an additional $20,000 scholarship. The national competition is in October, and the winner receives a $50,000 scholarship and a new Toyota Corolla.

“I’ve been giving my speech at various venues to practice, see what people think I can improve on,” she said.

In one of the essays, Carter wrote about medical racism. She said she does not see a lot of people who look like her in the medical field.

“And then upon realizing that, I realized I never really had a doctor that looks like me that’s taken care of me,” she said. “So little realization things like that led me to be interested in that side of things.”

As a child, Carter had eczema, which causes skin inflammation. This drew her to dermatology. She said students taunted her, which caused some insecurities, but as she got older, she didn’t worry as much what people thought of her. She said her doctor supported her in treating it and the eczema has mostly cleared up.

“Things and experiences like that just made me want to make other people feel comfortable in their own skin,” Carter said.

She also volunteered for the Red Cross during two summers at the Irwin Army Community Hospital on base with a dermatologist and physician assistant.

“That was a really great experience,” she said.

Carter is the president of the Black Student Union at MHS, an organization she joined her freshman year; she said she values the group as a safe space.

“We start every meeting off with experiences,” she said. “And many of them end up being racially motivated experiences that you had, and we have a meeting every week, so to have experiences, like new ones, come in every single week, it’s kind of concerning. But it’s also good to get to talk about them in a space where you feel comfortable.”

She said she wants to find an organization similar to it at her university.

Carter, who attended school on Fort Riley before transferring to MHS, values the community and support system with friends and staff at the Boys and Girls Club. Carter’s parents, Owen and Selvena, were members of the military, but since retired.

“A lot of my really close friends I’ve made here because I wasn’t the greatest at making friends when I first switched over districts,” she said. “So being at the club, it was a good way for me to meet different people.”

Staff members said Carter has left a positive impression on them.

There’s just something about her, said Melissa Soldan, club development director, that sets Carter apart because of kindness, compassion for others and leadership. Soldan said it’s almost hard to put into words.

“She lights up this room when you’re in it with her,” Soldan said.

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