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Way to Go: Xavier Cornejo, Brentwood

Xavier Cornejo, 17, a senior at Brentwood High

Xavier Cornejo, 17, a senior at Brentwood High School, took first place in the Nat Geo Mundo World Explorer Essay Contest in April. For winning, he received an all-expenses-paid trip to spend 19 days in July and August in Brazil. Photo Credit: Brentwood School District

A Brentwood student's essay on his fascination with Brazil has won him a scholarship for summer travel to that country.

Xavier Cornejo, a senior at Brentwood High School, took first place last month in the Nat Geo Mundo World Explorer Essay Contest, which challenged students to write about what they would hope to accomplish through world travel.

For winning, he received an all-expenses-paid trip to spend 19 days in July and August in Brazil through a student expedition coordinated by National Geographic. During the trip, the students will study rain forest fragmentation, which occurs when forests are divided into smaller blocks by human development -- thereby affecting habitats.

"I felt like my self came out in the essay," said Cornejo, 17. Of traveling to Brazil, he said: "It's an honor and humbling. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

The contest -- open only to Brentwood students -- was sponsored by Cablevision's Power to Learn initiative and Nat Geo Mundo, a television network focusing on nature, science, culture and history. Newsday is owned by Cablevision.

Cornejo is president of his school's Italian Club, treasurer of the Student Council, and a member of the school's National, Foreign Language and Tri-M Music honor societies.

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