Meena Yoo, a senior at Herricks High School, won first place this month in "Celebration of Suburban Diversity 2010," a student essay contest developed by Easter Suffolk BOCES in collaboration with Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies.
The students had to write about something they were exposed to that "increased their appreciation of the differences among us," Hofstra officials said.
Yoo's essay told how a history teacher once showed her local post-World War II homeowner's agreements that excluded African-Americans.
For winning, she received a $3,000 scholarship.
"Long Island has strived to become a more diverse region, and it has successfully done so," Yoo wrote. "The progressive movements, however, are by no means enough. We must continue to educate and encourage each other to establish a fully integrated society."
At Herricks, Yoo is captain of the varsity cheerleading team, assistant general chair of the Model Congress, and vice president of her senior class. She was also named 2010 Homecoming Queen in September and participates in DECA.
Outside of school, Yoo spent a week in Costa Rica this summer teaching English to elementary students through the nonprofit Abriendo Mentes.