East High School,
Charelle Wells was accepted by 31 colleges, including Yale, Princeton and Stanford. She chose MIT. "Stanford needs to quit calling me," she told gomemphis.com.
Wells was inspired academically by a summer program at Phillips Andover in 2000. "I was around all these smart people and I was doing well there," she said. By 10th grade, "I was on it."
The starting center on the East basketball team, Wells was good-naturedly nicknamed "The Brain" by her classmates. MIT graduate Tommie Henderson (S.B. 1995 in chemical engineering), who taught at East, introduced her to the school's optional engineering program, which ultimately led her to MIT. "I would put Cherelle against anyone," Henderson said. "She's a fighter. She's a worker, and she will not give up."