A senior from Brussels High School in Belgium has been named a 2008 Presidential Scholar by the Department of Education.

Brianna Fitch, 18, is headed to Washington, D.C., to participate in the award ceremony in June.

"I’m looking forward to meeting with the other award winners. It will be a really diverse group," Fitch said.

Winners were chosen from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and those living abroad. In all, 139 students were selected from 3,000 who qualified for the program.

"The 2008 Presidential Scholars shine a bright hope on the future of our country," said U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, in a press release following the announcement of the winners. "Their commitment to excellence and contributions to society reflect the character and innovation necessary to keep America both competitive economically and collaborative in overcoming challenges within our global community."

Fitch, who earlier this year participated in the Senate Youth Program, said she always had an interest in world affairs.

"As a kid, my mother always listened to National Public Radio. We were always well-informed about what was going on in the world," she said, adding that living overseas for the past five years led her toward a career in international affairs.

The essay she wrote for the Presidential Scholar Program was based on a trip she took with her family to Egypt.

"We had to submit a photo with the essay, and the picture I took showed the Pyramids of Giza in the background. The foreground showed all the rubble and trash around the city," Fitch said. "I wrote about how this country had such incredible ancient wonders yet such extreme poverty. It was the first time I’d ever actually experienced that."

Fitch is headed to Wellesley College in Massachusetts in the fall to pursue a double major in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies. She hopes to one day work for the State Department.

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