Roosevelt High School senior Maya Bowen won first place in...

Roosevelt High School senior Maya Bowen won first place in this year's Suburban Diversity High School Essay Contest. Credit: Roosevelt High School

A Roosevelt High School student has taken the top spot in an essay contest that asked teens to identify an issue related to diversity in Long Island's suburbs and how it impacts them.

Maya Bowen, a senior, won first place in Hofstra University's 2019 Suburban Diversity High School Essay Contest. Her prize was $3,000.

Bay Shore High School seniors Rayhanna J. DeJesus and Daniela Garcia Dominguez placed second and third, respectively. DeJesus received $1,500, while Dominguez received $1,000.

The contest was open to students in grades 9-12 across Nassau and Suffolk counties. 

"Studies have shown that across the board American suburbs are becoming more segregated," Bowen wrote in her winning essay. "Long Island's segregation did not develop through isolation, but rather its decades of discriminatory housing policies. This has affected me in numerous ways, such as less diversity in my school, and not being able to fully interact with a non-Hispanic or non-black person."

Winners were selected by members of the university's Student Diversity Advisory Board Committee, who volunteered to read and review all essays, and were honored last month during a banquet at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.

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