Bay Shore High School sophomore Asia Stewart believes that living in a diverse community has enriched her cultural life. Her expression of her views recently brought recognition and a $1,500 college scholarship.

Stewart, 15, took second place among about 250 Long Island high schoolers who entered the "Celebration of Suburban Diversity 2011" essay contest sponsored by Eastern Suffolk BOCES and Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies.

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Her three-page essay explored the advantages of living in a diverse community and included quotes from interviews with classmates.

"We are exposed to other people here, so we'll have a better ability to work with them when we are older," said Stewart, adding there would be "no culture shock" for Bay Shore kids.

Stewart was honored last month alongside the contest's other top winners at a banquet at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. The first-place winner was Marisa Su, 18, a senior at Garden City High School.

In her school, Stewart is on the volleyball team and a member of the Drama Club, Renaissance Club, SADD and the Service Honor Society. She plays the flute and is a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society.