Neil Putzer is a high school student at City Arts and Tech. He was told to write about how his life relates to MC Lyte's song titled "Dear John."
The song's lyrics include, "Let your thirst for life persevere. Someone once said you were chosen but as you've gotten older doors are now closing."
At the time, Putzer was recovering from a torn tendon.
"I stayed home a day just to, you know, work on college application stuff and finish them," he said.
More than 1,000 applicants were competing for two $50,000 scholarships as part of the education initiative of Hip Hop Sisters and MC Lyte.
"I tried to basically connect it to my own life, just personal connections," said Putzer. "Challenges and disadvantages."
The teen is known by his teachers as one of the school's best writers.
"It's definitely clear that through writing, it is a medium he uses to really speak to the issue he really cares about," said Principal Brianna Winn.
And last week, the high school student was told he was a winner. A reserved young man, he would not talk much about his essay. His mother confessed she hasn't even read it.
As for colleges, he likes Dillard University in New Orleans and Morgan State in Baltimore.
He says he did enjoy being in the limelight.
"Just the whole event and being (able) to go out there and meet all those people, it's pretty cool," he said.
The award ceremony will be part of the Soul Train Music Awards on Nov. 29.