From an applicant pool of nearly 42,000 high school scholar-athletes graduating with the class of 2019, Sunjay Chawla and Lauren Eccles have been named the male and female Wendy’s High School Heisman National Winners in the award’s 25th year.

Wendy’s announced Sunjay Chawla, Greenwood, Miss. and Lauren Eccles, Dandridge, Tenn. as the 2018 Wendy’s Heisman National Winners. The award recognizes high school seniors who have gone to the greatest lengths to be the best student-athletes and leaders within their communities. Each winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship and trip to NYC to attend the Heisman Trophy Trust’s annual college Heisman award ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 on ESPN.

As the male and female National Winners, Sunjay and Lauren will each receive a $5,000 college scholarship and trip to New York City to attend the Heisman Trophy Trust’s annual college Heisman award, broadcasted on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 on ESPN.

Sunjay Chawla, Greenwood, Miss.

Sunjay attends Pillow Academy in Greenwood, Miss., and excels in soccer, tennis and golf. As a sophomore and junior, he was named All Conference in soccer for MAIS Academy AAAA Division II. Sunjay led the team in scoring both years and scored the game-winning goal in the state championship game in 2017. Sunjay also won four straight MAIS Academy AAAA State Championship titles in tennis singles while serving as captain on his school team, which won three straight team state championships. He is an accomplished 4-handicap golfer who finished in third place at the Academy AAAA Division II state golf championship.

Sunjay created the Chawla ACT Institute at Greenwood High School to provide tutoring and study manuals for underprivileged youth to prepare for ACT testing. Sunjay is also very active in scouting. For his Eagle Scout project, he built a community tennis wall where beginners can hit tennis balls for free at a public facility to learn the basics of the sport. Then, he helped launch the Love Tennis Club for Beginners, and spent more than 100 hours providing complimentary youth tennis lessons.

In his application Sunjay says, “It was one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had, and I realized that volunteering and helping others is as fun as winning a state championship.” Sunjay continued about his community service project, “I hope one day that a student from the club wins a state championship. That would make me most proud.”

Sunjay is first in his class at Pillow Academy with a 4.9 grade point average. Further, he scored a 34 on his ACT and a 212 on his PSAT. Sunjay was recognized with a commendable recognition by the administrators of the National Merit Scholarship program for his PSAT score. 

Sunjay plans to attend a division I university to study banking and finance and pursue either an MBA or a Masters in Accounting. He looks forward to a future entrepreneurial role and aspires to be a CEO.

Lauren Eccles, Dandridge, Tenn.

Lauren attends Jefferson County High School in Dandridge, Tenn., and shines in soccer, swimming and track and field. Lauren was captain for both soccer and swimming and has won varsity letters in each sport every year. She is an Impact Honors Track and Field athlete, a regional and state qualifier in swimming, a competitive swimming multi-event record holder and was named the Atomic Triathlon Overall Junior Champion.

Lauren’s academic excellence is portrayed through her dual enrollment in high school and college. She will graduate summa cum laude in May of 2019 from Walters State Community College with 90 college credits and an Associate of Science degree, two weeks prior to her high school graduation. Lauren prides herself on enrolling in the most challenging courses so she can be fully prepared for her future academic pursuits. In her application, Lauren shared her life motto is borrowed from John F. Kennedy; she chooses to push herself academically to excel in all things, “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Lauren has also given back to her community through the sport she loves, soccer. Lauren obtained her American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) youth volunteer and referee certification to work as a certified referee. She has volunteered within AYSO for several years, spending many Saturdays working games and cleaning up the fields at the Boys and Girls Club. She’s worked to maintain the fields and facilities by repairing broken nets and equipment. In addition, Lauren has also volunteered within her community to assist basketball, volleyball and swim teams; she estimates these efforts have helped more than 1,200 children to participate in community athletics.

Lauren hopes to attend a division I university in the fall of 2019 to play soccer and seek a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering. She also intends to earn her doctorate in engineering after undergrad. Lauren looks forward to a career in chemical engineering research to help solve global problems like water scarcity. Lauren is first in her class at Jefferson County High School with a 4.7/4.0 grade point average, a 36 ACT and a 1540 SAT score.

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