WASHINGTON, D.C. — Brittany Colbath knows how to compete. She has competed not only against others for elected office in the DECA program but against herself her entire life to reach her full potential. That drive may take her to the White House in more ways than one.
The Copperas Cove High School senior who plans to become a corporate lawyer and one day get involved in politics is a Presidential Scholars candidate. The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is a program of the Department of Education that recognizes the academic achievements of distinguished graduating high school seniors. It is described as one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students with more than 3 million eligible to apply and only 2,600 being selected as candidates. Only 500 will become semifinalists for the honor with a maximum of 161 students actually being named Presidential Scholars.
“When I initially found out that I was selected as a nominee for the Presidential Scholars Program, I was immediately very excited and thankful. It was so humbling to find out that I was chosen by my state representative for this opportunity, especially since the program was only opened to include career and technical education students a few years ago,” Colbath said. “Career and technical education along with career and technical student organizations have become a very central aspect of my life that I am very passionate about.”
The program was established in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson to recognize the most distinguished graduating seniors for their accomplishments in many areas: academic success, leadership, and service to school and community. In 1979 it was expanded to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional scholarship and talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts. In 2015, the program was expanded once again to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical fields, which is the area in which Colbath is nominated.
In addition to excelling academically, Colbath is active in the DECA program — being elected to multiple district and state leadership roles and planning and executing statewide events. Copperas Cove High School DECA adviser Charlotte Heinze said Colbath has shown an extremely high level of intellectual curiosity, independence and self-motivation throughout the time she has known her.
“She has a very high level of organizational skills and always completes assignments/projects well ahead of time. She is a very creative individual with tremendous ability to present vivid ideas, and I believe her curiosity and intelligence makes her stand out above her peers,” Heinze said. “Brittney has superior interpersonal skills and great leadership skills. These skills have helped her excel in school and in her extracurricular activities.”
Colbath should know by the end of April if she is selected as a semifinalist and by May if she is selected as a Presidential Scholar. All scholars are invited to Washington, D.C., in June for the National Recognition Program, featuring various events and enrichment activities and culminating in the presentation of the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony.
Colbath will attend the University of Texas at Austin to major in Plan II Honors and Business on a full scholarship from the Terry Foundation.