Some cultures are painted in broad strokes, according to Rausan Borujerdi, but the act of painting itself can help shatter stereotypes, she believes.

The young artist said she feels most compelled to portray Iran as the vibrant country she has come to know through family visits.

"I'm Iranian-American, and I have a profound knowledge of the political and social tensions between Iran and America," said Borujerdi, 18, of Locust Valley. "I want to promote understanding of an Iran that seems inaccessible and really try to show it through art."

Borujerdi's work includes portraits of Iranian women.

"Iran is totally different than what anyone could anticipate," she said. "People are obsessed with Western culture. All the kids are obsessed with America and Justin Bieber."

At Locust Valley, Borujerdi is an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate with a 103.64 GPA, an avid reader who volunteers at her local library, and art and photo editor of her high school newspaper.

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Her determination to build bridges between cultures fuels her political ambitions, though she said she prefers to become an ambassador rather than a lawmaker. She has campaigned for Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) since childhood, she said.

"If you aren't active in your community, you have little control of what's going on," Borujerdi said. "You lose the ability to contribute to the betterment of your community."

HER PLANS: Borujerdi will attend Macaulay Honors College at CUNY at the City College campus and study international relations.

AT COLLEGE I'M MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO: Taking advantage of Macaulay's Opportunities Fund [a grant] and City College's Colin L. Powell Center for Leadership and Service. "What I'm trying to do is not just serve people locally, but internationally . . . to provide for greater populations."

HIGH SCHOOL HIGH POINT: "Taking on the IB diploma and all those courses. . . . I learned to balance doing community work and what I love as an artist while maintaining high grades."