Morehouse graduate recognized by the White House for service to community

A former foster child from the south side of Chicago has turned entrepreneur, and been recognized at the White House for his inspiring work.

Derrius Quarles, who is only 22 years old, is best known for winning more than $1 million in financial-aid to attend the prestigious Morehouse College.

He was a recipient of the Daily Point of Light Award in June 2013 for his commitment to help academically gifted yet economically disadvantaged students overcome financial barriers to higher education.

“I feel honored and humbled to be recognized by the White House as a Daily Point of Light awardee,” said Quarles. “I have been recognized for the work I have done with the Million Dollar Scholar, which has advanced economic access to higher education for youth in inner cities across the United States.”

The Million Dollar Scholar initiative has assisted more than 10,000 high school students online and helped students receive more than $950,000 in scholarships and grants.

In fact, Quarles’s drive to see other young people succeed is deeply personal. His father was murdered in Chicago when he was just 4 years old. One year later, he was taken from his mother’s custody and placed in foster care.

It was only when he entered high school that he made a conscious decision to seize opportunities to move on with his life.

At a ceremony on Monday, Quarles was one of only 18 handpicked Daily Point of Light awardees from 4,999 past recipients, invited to the White House to witness President Obama honoring the 5000th winner.

The 5000th award recipients, Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton, created the nonprofit Outreach to deliver free meals to hungry children in the U.S. and 14 other countries. The Iowa couple has been hailed as “civic heroes” because of their volunteer work.

Former President George H. W. Bush, who was in attendance with his family, set up award in 1990 to honor individuals and groups across the country who are making a difference and serving their community.

The award has been handed out since then to deserving recipients.

Quarles received his award on June 28, 2013. His award is number 3919.

The first in his family to attend college, Quarles graduated from Morehouse with a degree in sociology in May 2013 and is now focusing on working full time as CEO of Million Dollar Scholar as well as pursuing a part-time graduate degree.

Points of Light is world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service.

Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter at @Kunbiti