Greenwood Public School District
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Chawla continues father’s legacy of rewarding excellence

Submitted on: May 4, 2017



Greenwood entrepreneur Suresh Chawla continued the legacy of his late father, Dr. V.K. Chawla, by presenting thousands of dollars recently to almost 500 students in the Greenwood city schools who scored advanced, proficient or showed the greatest amount of growth on district- wide comprehensive tests administered in mid-March.  Teachers who worked diligently with these students throughout the school year were also rewarded with monetary gifts.

Students are being administered the state mandated tests this month. Chawla wanted to build the students’ momentum going into this year’s state testing by saluting them for the work they have done up to this point. He promised students he would be back next year with more incentives if they did well on the district-wide tests.

Chawla was accompanied to the schools by Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Wilson and curriculum and instruction director Mary Brown. At each stop, Wilson offered words of gratitude to the Chawla family for its support of the school district. “This is an exciting day. What we’re doing today is recognizing and appreciating the students and teachers who are going above and beyond to make it happen,” Wilson said.  “There is a special person here, and if it were not for his family and its support of the Greenwood Public School District, we could not do what we’re doing today. Let me be crystal clear that the monetary incentives you are receiving today are not district funds. They are solely from one particular family that has been a major supporter of the Greenwood public school district, and that is the Chawla family.”

For years, the elder Chawla, who died in 2015, presented thousands of dollars to students and teachers in recognition of their accomplishments in the classroom. He also made monetary contributions to the Greenwood Leflore County Chamber of Commerce’s Student Achievement awards, the Excellence in Education awards and numerous other organizations.

Suresh Chawla, a 1986 Greenwood High School graduate, and his brother Dinesh Chawla of Cleveland oversee the family’s businesses. Chawla made brief remarks after each school’s presentation and shared memories of his father, including his rags to riches story. He said the elder Chawla was passionate about education and made it a lifetime commitment to recognize academic excellence. He told of his father’s poor upbringing in Pakistan and the horrors that his father witnessed. His voice wavered as his spoke of the murders of his grandfather and two uncles during a civil war and of his father’s eight years in a refugee camp.  But, he also spoke with pride as he told  how his parents met and fell in love as refugees and of their eventual marriage. “His goal was to go out west to America, the land of opportunity,” he said. Chawla said his father obtained his Ph.D. and eventually bought a one-way ticket to Canada. Despite his educational degrees, the elder Chawla could only find menial work, including mopping floors at a post office for two years.  Chawla said his father eventually got a job with the Canadian government and worked as a scientist there for 10 years.  During this time, Chawla said his father saved his money, and in 1977, got an opportunity to purchase a convenience store in Greenwood.

Chawla said his parents worked hard, saved their money and sent their children to college.  Chawla’s father bought his first hotel in 1988, but the business almost failed. Dinesh Chawla quit medical school and came home to help the family. Suresh Chawla, who had received his master’s degree from Milsaps College and was being offered lucrative salaries from different companies, also came home. Chawla said he only expected to be in the family business for a few years; 27 years later, he’s still in Greenwood.

“My dad was a legend in this community. And, because of my dad, his determination and hard work, I’ve had the opportunity to meet three presidents, including  former President Barack Obama who stayed in one of the Chawla’s hotels in Greenville in 2008,” Chawla said. “I’m not saying this to show off. I’m telling you that if you work hard, you can go far in life.” He gives his dad all of the credit for his own success. “Today, because of my father, we’re about to open our 18th hotel in the Mississippi Delta,” he said.

Chawla said he has one piece of advice for students about succeeding in life. “I’m going to go to Bankston; I’m going to go to Greenwood Middle, Greenwood High. And, I’m going to give this one piece of advice to every student,” he said.  “If you want to succeed in life and make a lot of money in life, the one thing you need to do is read. Read as much as much as possible because when you go to high school or when you are a sophomore or junior in high school, you have to take a test called the ACT, and that test will determine where you go to college someday and how you do on the test will determine how you do in life. It is the single most important test you will take in your life, and if you don’t read well, you won’t do well on the test. I really encourage you to read - read the local newspaper, go to the library in the summertime. Read, read, read, and you will succeed in life.” And, in the words of his father, Chawla encouraged students to “go for it.”


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P.O. Box 1497, Greenwood, MS 38935
401 Howard Street, Greenwood, MS 38930
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