New Bern Good News: Scholarships for the "underachievers"

[New Bern Sun Journal] New Bern Good News: Scholarships for the "underachievers"

New Bern Good News: Scholarships for the "underachievers"

Meg Wethington is the founder of New Bern Good News. Follow the group on Facebook or their website at

Antonio Babic graduated from New Bern High School in 2020. Like a lot of us, Babic found his teenage self struggling to navigate the standardization of high school life. Make this grade. Stand in this line. Repeat a thousand times. Babic loved NBHS but “had passions that don’t correlate to a classroom” and that is hard to express on a standardized test that other people use as a measure of success.

“People don’t always follow the standard model”, said Babic. “Scholarship opportunities are formatted for standardization. They don’t take into account life situations like death, a learning disability, or a divorce in the family that could affect someone’s life in such a big way. It doesn’t give a way to explain and takes away the human aspect.”

The label of “underachiever” was placed on Babic which hurt his self-image. There need to be other options available that focus on an individual's strengths.

Babic wanted to go to college and get a degree and the standard ways of acceptance just weren’t working out for him. He decided to really show his passions and what he could do and he focused all of his energy on his senior project: bringing awareness to plastics in our oceans. With the help of a friend he built a boat out of a mess of scavenged plastic milk jugs, chicken wire and rope and sailed that bad boy across the Neuse River into Union Point Park where several people curiously watched as the crew paddled onto the shore.

Several people approached the team and asked what the heck they were doing. They were able to tell people about their project and inform the onlookers of their goal. Mission accomplished. What Babic was capable of doing, all of his many strengths and talents is not found or can be measured on any test. He was fully capable, just in his own way. In that mindset, he set out to find help getting into college. He reached out to his community. Babic gives the New Bern Rotary and the New Bern Historical Society credit for helping him get there. He said that the Historical Society “wasn’t that interested in the numbers on my tests and they looked at me like a whole person”.

Recently Babic posted the following on Facebook:

“Motivating myself in an academic environment was something I always struggled with, especially in high school. Due to a variety of external circumstances, I was never able to fully apply myself in any of my courses, despite the best efforts of many great teachers, coaches, and role models. My grades were never where I wanted them to be, and my chance at going to college was always in jeopardy due to my financial situation.

The “underachiever” label was something that was given to me and many other children while growing up. Some of the most gifted children I grew up with turned into adults that struggled with pressure, criticism and self-image due to the unrealistic expectations that society placed on them. This label used to be a deep source of shame for me. It took me a long time before I was able to wear this label as a badge of honor when showing what I was capable of accomplishing.

During this difficult time in my life, I was fortunate there were organizations in the community that looked beyond my classroom accomplishments and gave me the financial backing I needed to attend my alma mater. For that reason, I am starting a scholarship fund for New Bern High School students who may not have the best grades, may not be heavily involved in extracurricular clubs or organizations, but still, feel as though they deserve a fair chance. My hope is that this scholarship will not only give them a much-needed financial boost amid record tuition costs and inflation rates but also give them the belief that being labeled an “underachiever” does not define who they are.

The only requirements for this scholarship are

• The student has to be a graduating high school student at New Bern High School

• The student has to submit an art form of their choosing to about why they feel that they are an underachiever and how they plan to break the stigma. This can be as simple as an essay (no word count or page limit), creative video, or presentation. There is no required type of submission, however, students are encouraged to be as creative as possible when submitting their “application.”

I will be starting the scholarship fund with $1,000 of my own funds. However, if this scholarship resonates with you and you wish to contribute, please reach out to me. Anyone who donates $20 or more will be given a vote in the final voting process when the submission deadline closes on April 21st. No matter how much you are willing to donate, everyone who receives a vote will only receive one vote to ensure a fair and just voting process. The proceeds will be awarded to the winner of the voting process at the New Bern High School Scholarship Ceremony. In the case of a tie, the proceeds will be split among the joint winners. Half of the proceeds will be applied to the fall semester of 2023 and the other half will be applied to the spring semester of 2024. For any more questions, send me an email at Thank you!”

Babic’s gratitude for the help he once received and passion for the way we look at people is the impetus behind his scholarship programming. He always knew he wanted to give back and waited patiently and has now found himself in that fortunate position. Thanks to the support from his community, Babic is now an alumnus of UNCW and works in the technical field as an Operations Analyst. Babic’s goal is to “spread awareness that even if people don’t fit into that standardized model they are still capable.

This scholarship does not exclude anyone. It allows for the opportunity to explain “personal problems they might be aware of and is inclusive to everyone no matter their GPA”. He is shining his light on students who may not be “traditionally attractive but inside a genius” and giving them a launchpad into higher learning that will help them achieve their individual goals no matter how diverse.

And that’s Good News to me.

For more information and to support the scholarship you can check out their website at