A 17-year-old South Carolina high school student is the winner of the national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Malachi Jones joins the ranks of literary legends Stephen King, Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates and Truman Capote. Jones won the award based on his writing focusing on race and identity reports The Post and Courier.

Jones is a senior at Charleston County School of the Arts. He became one of 16 seniors to receive the Gold Medal Portfolio from the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. The nonprofit had over 345,000 applicants enter this year’s competition.

The teen submitted a collection of lyric essays and free-verse poems about his experience as a Black teen not fitting the formula of identity his White or Black peers placed on him. In a poem titled Pantoum for my Mother, Jones writes:

Stripped of my blackness,

uprooted by judgement.

I was never dark enough for you

or for the ones who called me whitewashed.

“I’m unapologetically who I am and black. I’m happy about it. I love it,” Jones said. His literary influences include James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Jones will receive a $10,000 scholarship and will be honored this summer at Carnegie Hall. He will be attending Columbia University in the fall.