From Tragedy to Triumph

daniels-webTragedy can seem impossible to overcome. But for Marcus Daniels, it was tragedy that helped define who he is today.

When his best friend, Dustin, passed away from leukemia in 2005, Marcus set his sights on success. He was determined. Not only determined to succeed in academics, but determined to make a difference in the world.

“I wanted to be great at something for him,” he said. “I began to focus on my schooling so I could hopefully be all the things that Dustin could not be due to his short life.

And that’s just what he did.

After graduating from high school in Brandon, Miss., Marcus attended The University of Mississippi and began his path toward becoming a doctor. He drew inspiration for a career in the medical profession from the doctors who cared for Dustin during his battle with leukemia.

“The doctors who treated him taught me the importance of kindness and compassion when helping patients and their loved ones,” he explained.

As an undergraduate, Marcus excelled academically as a pre-medical biology major. His dedication extended beyond the classroom as he devoted himself to serving the university, his fellow classmates and the Oxford community through organizations such as Manna: A Feeding Ministry, Black Student Union, PRIDE Network and Men of Excellence. He also completed two summer research internships, one at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and another at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

When the opportunity arose to apply for the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship, he didn’t hesitate—and with good reason. “My parents taught me from a young age to trust myself, look for opportunities that others are not looking for, and to try my hardest in all that I do,” he said. “I have always believed that you never know what may happen until you try it.”

Marcus learned in June 2015 that he had been named a Phi Kappa Phi Fellow as he was preparing for his first year of medical school at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has since completed two years of medical school (successfully, of course) and remains dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others. 

“Though Dustin is no longer here, the lessons I learned through him about love and endurance continually permeate through my life. I have learned that my calling is to ameliorate the suffering of people, such as Dustin, through medical knowledge and unceasing compassion.”


Photo credit: Keith Weller/Johns Hopkins Medicine

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi