When Derrius Quarles was four, his father was killed in Chicago. Soon after, he was taken away from his drug-addicted mother. Growing up as a ward of the state, Quarles earned a 4.2 grade point average in high school and a 28 on the ACT. He was offered more than $1 million in scholarships from various colleges. He’ll go to Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he plans to pursue a career in medicine.
Quarles credits his success to his determination to go to college, his ability to accept his past, and not use it as an excuse.
“I had to come to accept what happened. I had no part in it, in my circumstances. But it is my responsibility to. It’s all about how I’m going to overcome that,” he said.
Quarles applied for more than 40 scholarships starting as a sophomore. He wrote an essay about his hard-luck past, but relied on another one about nearly drowning when he joined the high school swim team.