From Tragedy TO
TRIUMPH written by donna mooney
photos by brian t. williams
Long after the momentous 2010 graduation where First Lady Michelle Obama was the touted commencement speaker and 31 months after her ABC World News interview about overcoming homelessness to graduate from college, Quiana Childress has another major challenge to conquer. Childress wants to be a U.S. Surgeon General or America’s Doctor. Remember Childress? She is the smart, hardworking biology pre-med graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff who had the good fortune of having UAPB Commencement Speaker First Lady Michelle Obama acknowledge her struggles from the podium. Her problems stemmed back to when she was a 16-year-old teenager in Newport, Arkansas. One of 10 children, one day this 16-year-old found herself a homeless high school student who had to figure out very quickly how to live on her own. She cleared that hurdle to receive her CNA license and developed more stamina and strong will. Then she graduated from Newport High School with a 3.96 GPA and looked forward to college.
“According to statistics, I was supposed to be a teenage mom without a chance of graduating from high school, but I made it!” 32
That high GPA landed her at Westminster College. After a one-semester stay at Westminster, where she earned a 4.0 GPA, she returned to Arkansas, settling in Little Rock. She took a brief sabbatical from traditional college courses and took the fast-track to finish an LPN degree, which allowed her to work smarter and still earn a decent living. Then, she became a full-time student at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated summa cum laude with much fanfare and not a few tears. While most college students were content living in the dorm from one financial aid refund check to the next, Childress had more in mind. It was not just about survival, but thriving…taking one accomplishment at a time, allowing each to push her forward. In fall 2009, Childress was one of two UAPB students in the Department of Biology to receive a NASA Stem Minority Research Grant. That summer, she was selected from 500 applicants for the Yale University School of Medicine BioSTEP program to perform biomedical research in the Department of
Published on May 30, 2013