Ryan Carter-Stanley first knew she wanted to pursue medicine when she held a tumor in her hands.
Carter-Stanley was about 14 years old when she traveled to Mexico on a medical mission trip with her father and her stepmother, an anesthesiologist and pediatric oncologist, respectively.
Carter-Stanley got to be bedside during one of the surgical procedures in which the doctors removed a tumor, so she held it –and thought it was the “coolest thing.”She was also impressed with the doctors who had gone to Mexico and, without receiving any compensation, were providing medical care to people who otherwise wouldn’t have received it.
“It was so overwhelming that at that point, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
Carter-Stanley, 17, of Kernersville, will be one of 20 incoming freshmen entering East Carolina University in August as EC Scholars – the most prestigious academic scholarship program the university offers. A senior at Robert E. Glenn High School, Carter-Stanley hopes to go into pre-med for her undergraduate degree and is interested in becoming a surgeon.
Carter-Stanley almost didn’t apply to ECU. Her family is full of fans of N.C. State University, and she had applied to scholarship programs at other schools. But her mother convinced her that it wouldn’t hurt to submit another application. Carter-Stanley’s feelings about ECU changed over time, and she eventually attended an Honors College program.
She left impressed with the sincerity with which the staff members wanted her to attend ECU. That’s how she knew that this was the university for her, and her parents agreed.
“You don’t get the feeling like, ‘You should want to go here’ or ‘You would be lucky to go here,’ but ‘We want you to go here,’” she said. “You’re already a part of the family at ECU.”
With Carter-Stanley scheduled to start school in the fall, the Pirate family will be getting a student with a record of leadership. During high school she served as the crisis control coordinator and secretary of the Key Club at the local level, and as the lieutenant governor of the Key Club at the district level, which includes six high schools. She has also served in a leadership role at Young Life, a Christian high school organization.
Instead of viewing college as the goal for which she’s been working, Carter-Stanley sees it as another step toward accomplishing her goals.
“For most people, they view an opportunity like this as almost reaching the end, like reaching that goal they’ve always been wanting,” she said. “I choose to view it more as a door that’s been opened.”
Carter-Stanley is the daughter of Kimberly and Scott Stanley.
— Justin Boulmay