Family Mottos and Marist Mentors Propel Zach Quarles' '16 Career Path
January 16, 2024 — Zach Quarles '16 lives by his family motto: “Focus on what you can control, and know that everything else will fall into place.”
Zach is a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) advocate, a former Marist football player, and a dedicated community volunteer who believes in the power of networking and building each other up. He’s worked for companies like the National Basketball Association (NBA), Morgan Stanley, and now Ernst & Young.
When Zach isn’t working or connecting with the community, he travels, weight trains, and explores fashion trends. Grateful for his professional achievements, Zach says he owes a lot of his success to the many mentors and resources at Marist, as well as his family and his faith.
Diverse Experiences Create Avenues to Success
As an active alumnus, Zach serves on Marist’s Alumni Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board where he works closely with Dr. Edward Antonio, Vice President of DEI, and other members of the Marist community to support DEI initiatives.
“The experiences I had, the people I met, and the networking opportunities I got at Marist shaped who I am today, building my character, my commitment to giving back, and my drive to succeed in my career,” said Zach. “I love being on the advisory committee because it’s important to help others find or create avenues to success.”
He and the advisory board work to engage with prospective students, alumni, and student social awareness groups to foster support, mentorships, and networking opportunities for marginalized groups across the Marist community.
“Zach stands out as an exemplary and devoted member of the Alumni DEI Board with an enthusiasm for diversity, equity, and inclusion that shines through in all his endeavors,” said Dr. Edward Antonio. “Zach is an active participant in DEI initiatives, traveling to board meetings and events across the country and extending a warm welcome to newcomers, making them feel valued and included. His dedication as an alumnus of color to his alma mater is both inspiring and commendable and sets a high standard for others to follow.”
Zach Quarles '16 in Fontaine Hall. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.
Road Trip to Marist
Zach arrived at Marist from Washington, D.C., bringing with him a background that significantly influenced his commitment to academic excellence and athletic pursuits.
“D.C. was the perfect place for a young black male to grow up in,” said Zach. “It was a unique place where I got exposure to different sides of education, wealth, and life experiences. My parents, both born and raised in D.C., engrained the importance of hard work in me, which led to me leveraging college football as a catalyst to a higher education.”
Zach was recruited to play on the Marist football team as a cornerback and fondly recalls his initial visit. He highlighted the welcoming faculty and coaches, with special mention of former Coach Jim Parady.
“My first visit to Marist was very significant for me because it was on Martin Luther King Day weekend and because the new environment and people I met on the visit made me feel like I could create my own story here,” said Zach.
A Dynamic Student-Athlete
An all-conference honor roll student-athlete with a major in political science, Zach excelled both on and off the field. He served as the Student Government Association VP of Athletics, President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and the captain of the football team in his senior year.
Zach Quarles '16 playing as a cornerback at Tenney Stadium for the Marist football team. Photo courtesy of Marist Athletics.
While working with the Center for Student-Athlete Enhancement, Zach attended a fundraising event at the Grace Smith House in Poughkeepsie, where he saw professionals from Fortune 500 companies, academia, and industries of all kinds giving back to help victims of domestic abuse. He was so inspired by the event, he took a Mentoring Violence Protection class and went on to work with the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.
"From the time I met Zach, he was mature beyond his years, always thinking about how he could better his experience at Marist," said Alyssa Gates, Director of Student-Athlete Enhancement. "He cared deeply about making change and used his platform as a football student-athlete to speak out against violence against women and other causes. He went out of his way to network in the most genuine way and to provide service to others. I’m so proud of what he’s accomplished since leaving Marist."
Zach carried on his work with the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault while working for the NBA, an opportunity he got through networking with fellow Red Fox alum and trustee, Jerome Pickett '98/'22MBA. Zach primarily focused on operational and physical security risks that could impact the league’s assets before getting a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in Cybersecurity Policy and Governance at Boston College.
Zach went on to work as a Threat Intelligence Associate for an investment bank, Morgan Stanley, and then was drawn to his current role at Ernst & Young as a Senior in their Risk Consulting practice, where he provides advisory services to financial services and technology clients on matters relating to security strategy, risk management, and compliance.
If you’re a Marist alumni who wants to get involved with DEI initiatives at Marist please visit here.