NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

October 11, 2013

'My kids inspired me'

Merrimac resident beats the odds and succeeds at college

Last academic semester, a friendly competition took place in the Augustonovich home over which college student would receive the highest GPA.

“We have a GPA contest every semester,” Bruce Augustonovich said with a laugh.

This is a familiar scenario for many families intent on spurring their children on to academic success through incentives like competitions. But in Merrimac’s Augustonovich family, it is not just the children who are pitted against each other.

Bruce Augustonovich, a 46-year-old father of five, is one of the competitors.

Last semester, he was also one of the winners, bringing home a perfect 4.0 GPA, like his 24-year-old daughter, Kayla. Father and daughter prevailed over Joseph, the 27-year-old who recently graduated from the same college.

“But it is usually Joey who beats the both of us,” Bruce Augustonovich said of his oldest son.

Augustonovich has worked construction and other jobs, but none has held as much hope and joy for him as his current position as a full-time student at Northern Essex Community College.

In some ways, Augustonovich was an unlikely candidate for academia, but his ambition, perseverance and determination, along with the resources of NECC, have produced an impressive record of academic and social success.

But the road was not an easy amble.

Born into an unhappy home in Haverhill with five siblings, Augustonovich wanted only to escape. He ran away from home for the first time at age 5.

“I was picked up by a policeman,” he said. “He took me out for ice cream and drove around until he found out where I lived because I wouldn’t tell him. I was involved in social services, but they worked more for the parents than the kids.

“I had a bad name starting with my brothers,” he said. “I was already disliked by the teachers. I never made it into high school, so I really surprised myself (at NECC).”

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