Founded in 2013 by Steven Lynn, dean of the South Carolina Honors College, this annual writing contest was designed to engage the state's future leaders and thinkers. Each year the Honors College invited South Carolina high school juniors and seniors to respond to the question "How can we make South Carolina better?" in 750 words or fewer, in the genre of their choice.
The finalists, selected by a panel of preliminary judges, were invited to the University of South Carolina campus for a second round comprising a forty-minute impromptu writing contest. This round was evaluated by two grand judges—South Carolina natives who have achieved national acclaim: short-story writer and novelist Pam Durban and poet Nikky Finney. Each chose a topic for the impromptu contest: write about a meaningful book and complete the statement "I come from. . . ." This volume features the writing of the seventy-one finalists from the 2016-17 South Carolina High School Writing Contest.
Aïda Rogers is a writer for the USC Honors College and editor of three volumes of State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love, published by the University of South Carolina Press.
Steven Lynn is the dean of the University of South Carolina Honors College and Louise Fry Scudder Professor.