A Garden City Middle School student has been named a grand-prize winner in Altice USA's Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest.
Ana Bucevic, an eighth-grader, won the top spot in the Optimum region's middle school category of the contest, which asked students to name a Latino from the past or present with whom they would choose to spend a day. The contest received nearly 700 submissions.
Bucevic's 500-word essay was about Máxima Acuña, a Peruvian subsistence farmer and environmentalist. Bucevic was awarded a $1,500 check.
"I was ecstatic," Bucevic, 13, said of her achievement. "It was very meaningful for me, because it validated my hard work."
Bucevic, who is the daughter of Filipino and Croatian immigrants, said she chose Acuña because she admired how the environmentalist held onto her values despite risks to her life and reputation.
"If I can grasp just a fraction of the courage and bravery Máxima Acuña has, I will become a better person than I was before," Bucevic said.
Bucevic is a member of her school's Leaders Program and National Junior Honor Society as well as the varsity swim team at Garden City High School. She also plays percussion, piano and violin in various school ensembles.
Karen Chan of Valley Stream North High School and Nicholas Bellucci of the Long Island School for the Gifted in Huntington Station were runner-ups in the contest.