From an applicant pool of nearly 42,000 high school seniors, two Vineland High School student-athletes were selected as recipients of the annual Wendy’s High School Heisman Scholarship.
Seniors Sara Parks and Lucas Portadin were two of 7,500 students in the country to earn the award, now in its 25th year. The recipients were chosen after a rigorous application process, which required the students to hold a cumulative 3.0 or better grade point average, participate in at least one of the 47 sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee or the National Federation of State High School Associations, and be a leader in school and the community and serve as a role model for underclassmen.
Portadin, a stand-out soccer player at VHS, plans to attend Drew University in the fall and major in biology, with the hopes of one day becoming a dentist. Parks, who plays both soccer and softball, is undecided on her school for next year, but plans to major in engineering. In addition to their athletics, Parks is one of the captains of the Academic Team and Portadin is a recent Mr. Vineland contestant. Both are also members of the National Honor Society.
The scholarship amount has not been finalized yet, according to Wendy’s/QSC Restaurants’ vice president, Rob Rone. QSC starts with a $250 amount for each student. Fundraisers are held at Wendy’s throughout the year, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the scholarships. The final fundraising night will be held on Monday, May 13 from 5-8pm at Wendy’s on South Main Road.
According to Wendy’s, the High School Heisman was created by Wendy's founder Dave Thomas in 1994. Dave dropped out of high school when he was 15 years old to work full-time and went on to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in history. While this nontraditional path led to his prosperity, it worried Dave that others would follow in his footsteps and expect to achieve similar fame and wealth by not finishing high school or attending college. At 61 years old, Dave enrolled at Coconut Creek High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and received his General Equivalency Diploma. Inspired by this moment and with a desire to celebrate the outstanding achievements of youth in America, he launched Wendy's High School Heisman.
Twenty-five years later, Wendy's has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships to students and more than a million dollars to high school academic and athletic programs across the country. Wendy's High School Heisman has also celebrated more than 650,000 of the nation's most esteemed high school seniors who share Wendy's values of giving back to their communities, treating people with respect, continuing education and excelling on the athletic field.
For Parks and Portadin, representing Vineland is one of the highlights of winning this scholarship.
“It’s cool to represent Vineland for a little bit longer, since soccer season is over,” said Portadin. “I like to keep getting the name of our town out there and make everyone proud.”
“I like that we can not only represent Vineland, but be able to set an example that you can still participate in sports but also succeed academically,” Parks said.
Rone also noted that giving back to the community is one of the biggest reasons why he enjoys being part of this award.
“Giving back to the community and school I attended means everything to me, my family, and Wendy's,” Rone said. “Being able to help great kids in Vineland not only with scholarships, but with employment and life experiences is what it's all about. I look forward to giving back to Vineland and VHS for years to come with the many exciting ideas and partnerships forming every day.”
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