Quiana Childress, a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Arkansas, has lived a life many would describe as difficult. The Alpha Kappa Alpha member, who was once homeless and forced to live in a car, recently received a $25,000 scholarship from the Alpha Kappa Alpha Educational Advancement Foundation at the sorority’s 64th biennial convention in St. Louis, Mo.

Childress’ story also reached first lady Michelle Obama, who praised the future medical school student for her “burning desire to rise above her circumstances and her unrelenting belief that she can succeed despite all evidence to the contrary” during a commencement speech at the University of Arkansas.

Similarly, former AKA President Barbara A. McKinzie celebrated Childress’ academic success during the sorority’s convention. “It would have been easy for Quiana to surrender and become one of life’s tragedies. It is a testament commitment to excellence that inspired her to rise above the depths of despair to become a woman who is destined to change the world.  We are proud to embrace her and help her achieve her dreams through this scholarship.”

In addition to being honored by her sorority and the nation’s first lady, Childress has also been featured as “Person of the Week” on the ABC Network News with Diane Sawyer.