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Announcing our 2009 Scholarship Recipients—Derrius Quarles and Alexander Langendorf

For the first time, our PBKACA Scholarship Committee has chosen to honor two outstanding seniors with our PBKACA Scholarship for 2009. The first recipient is Derrius Quarles who is completing his senior year at Kenwood Academy and will be attending Morehouse College in the fall. Read Derrius’ thank-you letter (.pdf). Read about Derrius in the Chicago Tribune.

Derrius has a “laserlike” focus on high achievement and is passionate about his education, planning to major in biomedicine and psychology for a career as a pediatrician. He is the only senior at Kenwood to earn straight A’s over the first semester. He also won the Most Academically Talented Science student in 2007-08, a very prestigious award to receive as a sophomore. His courses include nine honors classes and seven AP classes. His chemistry AP teacher and principal commented not only on his “powerful” academic record, but his impressive array of leadership skills, from Student Council president to tutoring K- 2nd grade students in math.

Derrius has used his many life challenges and personal obstacles (including being in the foster care system for 12 years) to inspire him to greatness. He told us that he had almost failing grades in the 8th grade when one teacher told him he had great academic potential and mentored him through high school to this day. The teacher calls his cell phone daily “just to see how he is doing.”

His poise and maturity and intense interest in learning as well as helping foster children with community outreach programs in the future was one of the many reasons we have chosen Derrius for this honor.

UPDATE (July 2010) Derrius recently returned from a monthlong trip to Ghana, where he studied Pan-Africanism, sustainable development, and alternative medicine with a group of distinguished Morehouse College professors and students. To read more about his trip and see photos, visit his thought-provoking blog at

Our second honoree is Alexander Langendorf of Lincoln Park High School. Alexander is a thoughtful, creative and aware student who considers “education to be the ultimate democratic equalizer: the means of social mobility and the root of economic opportunity.” He views education as not just a privilege, but also as an opportunity to become a contributing member of the communities to which he belongs. He eagerly accepts the “responsibility of being well rounded and well-read; intellectually grounded with a level head.” For this, he believes, “is both the price and promise of citizenship.”

Besides his near perfect grades, ACT and SAT scores, Alexander plays tennis, is cocaptain of the team and is a member of the Ecology Club. His volunteer interests include the Nature Center and the Howard Area Community Center and his principal also notes that he “reads voraciously and enjoys provocative and richly layered works of fiction which explores the frailties of human existence.”

Alexander’s plans as he enters Carleton College with a possible double major in mathematics (“enjoying the pursuit of mathematical puzzle solving”) and English (“resonating to the ineffable splendor of written language”) are to become a teacher and ultimately write a book – “even if not one to be published.”

The PBKACA Scholarship Committee, chaired by Emelda Estell and Michael Silverstein, worked closely with Danielle Cox-Jones, Scholarship Program Manager of the Office of High School Programs and the Chicago Public Schools in distributing and collecting information and applications to each Chicago public high school. Award recipients are selected based on academic achievements, leadership ability, extracurricular activities as well as financial need. If they have other scholarship support, PBKACA will consider that in making our awards (maximum of $5000 for all recipients per year) or defer the award to future years when less financial aid is available for our winners. Your donations to our Scholarship Operating Fund and our Scholarship Endowment Fund in the past (and as we continue raising additional funds for current and future winners this year) are invaluable. You can donate now by sending your check to our PO Box or donate online at All your donations are fully tax-deductible, and 100 percent of the donations go directly to scholarships.

PBKACA also continues to support our College and University based chapters of Phi Beta Kappa. Members of our Executive Board attended the induction ceremonies at Lake Forest, Loyola and Rockford College; in addition, chapters receiving our $500 awards included Lake Forest and Rockford.