Competing with over 3000 other teenagers from around the globe, King’s College student Nicolas Yan never dreamt he would have a chance of winning the 2015 Writing Prize contest run by the College Board and The Atlantic magazine in the United States.
When he was informed he was the winner, and will soon be published, he said it was the “most surreal experience”.
The competition has the aim of encouraging students to engage thoughtfully with important texts to build knowledge, deepen understanding and share it effectively.
Twenty-five prescribed texts were offered, and Nicolas’ choice was Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, “I have a dream”.
This year’s competition was judged by 40 college professors of history, political science and composition, with the winning essay being selected by a panel of College Board and The Atlantic staff. They said that Nicolas’ work “stood out as a successful demonstration of analytical writing”.
The prize package for Nicolas includes US$5000 and publication in the September issue of the magazine.
“It’s unbelievable that I will be published in The Atlantic. It’s incredibly honouring to consider that my words will appear in a publication that housed the works of such luminaries as Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway and Vladimir Nabokov. I don’t think it will sink in until I physically see my essay on the pages of the magazine,” the year 13 student said.
Nicolas was flown to Washington D.C., accompanied by his parents and King’s College Head of English Steve Walker, to be presented with his award at The Atlantic’s Education Summit.
He says he will put half of the prize money away for his tertiary education, and the remainder will support a fundraiser he is running for Nepal, after the devastating earthquake that occurred there in April this year.