Despite the fact that Eniolufe Asebiomo had no speech prepared and no idea he stood a chance against other students in the running, he was still able to overcome his shock when he was presented with The Augusta Chronicle’s Best and Brightest 2014 award Thursday night.
“It’s an honor being able to speak in front of a room filled with bright and amazing minds,” Asebiomo said. “I am confident that we can all shape a better future together. I want to encourage you to follow your passions … everyone worries that they can’t change the world. But we have to realize that if we change our viewpoints, we can do great things.”
Asebiomo, an 18-year-old Westside High School student, was one of 21 Augusta-area high school students honored for academic achievement during the 12th annual Best and Brightest banquet.
A total of 84 applicants applied this year, with judges narrowing that number based on volunteer work, extracurricular activities, school grades and a five-minute in-person interview.
“It’s fun for us, since all these students bring their own individual style to the contest. It’s fun, but it’s really hard to choose. They all do such great things,” University of South Carolina Aiken admissions director Andrew Hendrix said. “We look for students that have really challenged themselves. The ones that really push themselves are the ones that grab our attention.”
Asebiomo is not only No. 1 in his class of 188 students, but he also co-captained his school’s cross country team, gained membership into the National Honor Society, became student body president and is an AP Scholar with Distinction.
He will attend Stanford University and study mechanical engineering. He credited his parents and teachers with helping him achieve the Best and Brightest award.
“I want to be able to educate others. I want to make other people happy and fulfilled,” Asebiomo said. “I want to use my achievements to change people’s lives for the better.”
Asebiomo received a check for $1,000 along with his new title. The four runners-up received $200 checks.
The other senior nominees also had far-reaching talents and accomplishments, including accomplished singers, master class musicians, readers of dead languages, a burn ward unit volunteer and a scuba diver.
Daniel Pippen, a North Augusta graduate and the winner of last year’s Best and Brightest award, spoke to the nominees just before the award announcement. He told the students to examine their passions and be prepared to take risks in order to pursue them.
“Don’t stop persevering. You are far from done,” Pippen said. “Grow and explore. You have great work in store wherever you go.”