Winner of First Annual The Atlantic and College Board Writing Prize Announced

First prize essay reflects on Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”

Washington, D.C. (June 15, 2015)— High school student Nicolas Yan is the winner of the first annual The Atlantic and College Board Writing Prize. He is being recognized for his reflection on Martin Luther King’s iconic speech in an essay entitled, “The King’s Speech: Martin and His Dream.”

“We were delighted to see so many students from around the world rise to the challenge of this contest, and inspired by their display of analytical ambition, writerly voice, and creativity,” said James Bennet, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic. "Nicolas’ essay stood out for its clarity of expression and sensitivity of analysis. He weighed the words of the speech in context, as King’s audience would have heard them – a stirring accomplishment for a teenager more than five decades and half a planet away from the scene.”

The writing contest was created to recognize today’s best high school essay writers and help develop the analytical writing skills that are critical to college and career success. For this year’s contest, students were asked to accurately and insightfully analyze an important document from American history. Forty college professors of history, political science, and composition served as judges and read over 3,000 submitted essays from more than 30 countries. A panel of Atlantic and College Board staff selected Mr. Yan’s essay as the contest-winning submission.

“Nicolas’ essay offers an insightful and unique interpretation of one of the most important speeches in American history. He engages beautifully with the text, while maintaining a sharp critical eye and infusing his personal voice,” said David Coleman, President and CEO of the College Board. “We are excited that so many students from around the world collaborated with their educators to critically examine these seminal texts. We hope this process gave students the opportunity to learn more about our nation’s Founding Documents and about the power of their voices in writing. We are looking forward to continuing the contest in the years ahead by challenging students to write analytically about new topics.”

Yan is a 17-year-old senior at King’s College, an independent secondary school in Auckland, New Zealand. He attended elementary school in California and writes poetry for his school publication and has previously been published in NZ Rugby World. He intends to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Classics or Comparative Literature upon graduating from high school in December.

The winner was announced today at The Atlantic’s inaugural Education Summit, a full day of discussion and debate on the biggest issues affecting America’s students, teachers, and school systems, spanning from early childhood development to higher education.

Next year’s The Atlantic & College Board Writing Prize, will invite students to submit essays analyzing an influential work of art. Submission details will be available on the College Board’s website by mid-August, 2015.

About The Atlantic:
Founded in 1857 on the conviction that big ideas make history, The Atlantic advances new ways of seeing the world and its possibilities. A tradition of integrity, invention and optimism has made The Atlantic one of the fastest growing and most acclaimed brands in media today. Its thriving digital, live, and video platforms, like its foundational monthly magazine, address the critical questions of our times -- from politics to business, technology to culture to urban affairs. The Atlantic is the flagship property of Atlantic Media, based in Washington, D.C. Its co-presidents are Editor in Chief James Bennet and Chief Operating Officer Bob Cohn.

About The College Board:
The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world's leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement Program®. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators, and schools. For further information, visit