Derrius Quarles, founder and CEO of MillionDollar$cholar, LLC, used the obstacles from his childhood as motivation to become a scholarship guru. The Chicago native is no stranger to success – as he is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, an author and a recipient of multiple scholarships including Gates Millennium, Dell, Nordstrom, Horatio Alger and Coca-Cola.
But his success was far from a breeze, as Quarles was faced with obstacles since the age of four. He was forced to cope with the slaying of his father, taken away from his mother and placed in foster care all before he became a teenager. With so many burdens against him, he miraculously accumulated over $1.1 million in scholarships and financial aid during his last two years of high school at Kenwood Academy in Chicago.
Since winning the scholarships, Quarles has been doing all he can to help students find money to pay for college. He was inspired to write a book after interacting with students in Chicago who needed help finding scholarships. Quarles started off informally delivering presentations about applying for scholarships and began to write a blog for scholarships.com, one of the main search engines used to find scholarships. His involvement eventually laid the foundation for the book and the company.
Quarles published his first book, Million Dollar Scholar: Winning The Scholarship Race in 2011.The book has over 500 pages of advice and resources to help high school students pay for college – but it is more than a mere reference book. Winning The Scholarship Race is a useful guide that describes how Quarles was able to win so many scholarships in high school, and how students can find similar success.
Through his book, Quarles hopes to combat statistics about the debts of college graduates, including a report by The Project on Student Debt, which said that the average student loan debt of college graduates from four-year public and private nonprofit colleges in 2010 was $25,250.
“The book has the potential to reach students that I couldn’t get to,” Quarles said. “It gave students all of the information that helped me win over a million dollars in scholarships.”
In addition to being an author, Quarles has added entrepreneur to his resume as well. His company, MillionDollar$cholar (MD$), LLC, was designed to help high school students see that it is feasible to get money for college. The ultimate goal of MD$ is to help students get in college for free or to leave college with as little debt as possible. MD$ is a for- profit company that holds events such as scholarship presentations, academic workshops and book signings. The website and blog offers resources for scholarships, success stories and updates on MD$ in the local and national communities.
While the company is in its early phase, it has already impacted many students like Martese Johnson, a graduate of Kenwood Academy, who won scholarships including the Nordstrom Scholarship, Zinch Weekly and several full ride scholarships from institutions.
“From personal phone calls to talks about academics, to advice on scholarship essays, Derrius has supported me on my way to college and represented all major aspects of MD$ well,” says Martese. “MD$ has shared invaluable knowledge in terms of scholarships, academics, and life lessons with several teens just like me.”
Despite facing challenges such as the lack of funding and attempts to get more support from the community, Quarles continues to help students pave a better education path for themselves. The future physician said, “I wouldn’t be in college if someone didn’t decide to pay for it. So I want other students to have that same opportunity.”
For more information about Quarles’ educational projects or the future of MD$, check out http://milliondollarscholar.com/.