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Our student awardees embody excellence and passion. We are proud to offer four scholarships to four graduating high school seniors who were selected as winners for our Essay Contest. We are also excited to celebrate our Middle School T-Shirt Design Contest Winner!



Victoria Lu, South Side High School, attending Yale University in the fall.

"Building a more equitable Long Island requires a multifaceted approach. One must consider the socioeconomic divisions and beliefs of people not only locally but also globally. Some belief systems are so ancient that it seems impossible to dismantle. Our inherent prejudices stem from a young age, and if not introduced to more sympathetic perspectives, we continue fostering unhealthy bias. I am struggling to erase the bias that my parents and other adult figures gave me, as I grew up in a mostly white suburban neighborhood."


Nadia Othman, Island Trees High School, attending New York University in the fall.

"Freshman year I joined Debate Club, where I silently sat in the back during meetings, on the brink of tears out of intimidation. I first spoke during a discussion about whether affirmative action is fair. Aware that there were virtually no other people of color in the room, I had no idea how many people would agree with me, but I said that the minorities meant to benefit from the policy are deprived of opportunity on a deeper systemic level that unfairly hinders their performance. Others responded, saying that they'd never thought of it that way, and urged people to listen to me. I realized I couldn't be afraid to express myself in fear of deviation."


Jeffrey Reyes-Espinal, Amityville Memorial High School, attending Mercy College in Manhattan in the fall. 

"Being from a community that is known for its low income, people around the Island understand the reputation that the community holds. What most don't know is that there are two versions of my community. One is the larger, poorer, unincorporated town and the other half is a waterside village, million-dollar houses, retired and majority-white residents. My experience begs the question, how do we ameliorate the issue of racism on Long Island? First, you identify that there's an issue. At these school board meetings, the public and administration expressed their concern over the fact of minority lack of representation. Second, access. My school district opened up committees to research this very topic, worked with specific hiring associations that specialized in POC hirings. This access means voting, hiring, admissions to universities. The more you address an issue, the more opportunities that arise to solve it. That is where we start." 


Faith Shaw, Westbury High School, attending Long Island University: Brooklyn in the fall

 "I learned how to make my presence quiet, how to not draw attention to myself when my skin had already made me the lone wolf. I learned how to change the way I talked, my deep timber exchanged for something softer, lighter, higher. How to make my tall frame disappear amongst the crowds. It wasn't until I was in a room that looked so different from my neighborhood that I learned what it felt like to feel other. It became difficult for me to navigate these situations with any sort of confidence. I had already felt a plethora of eyes looking at me for reasons I could not control. So to find any sort of comfort, I subconsciously worked to make myself as unmentionable as possible. This is how I spent the first two years of High School whenever I found myself in these situations. It wasn't until 11th grade, and my discovery of spoken word poetry that things changed."


Sean Stergis, Woodland Middle School (East Meadow Schools)

Support ERASE Racism and buy Sean's winning T-Shirt here!

In addition to our Student Awardees, we are proud to highlight our Student Task Force! This group of high school student volunteers who are leaders in their schools and communities are dedicated to learning about and dismantling systems of racism in our communities.

Learn about our Student Task Force!

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