OKLAHOMA CITY - A US Grant High School student just returned home from Washington DC with some new hardware. 

Lilyanna Rangel is this year's winner of the national Congressional Arts Competition. Her work and her win are helping her break down barriers.

In any of Lilyanna's sketches, you can find a message.

“We’re all the same inside,” she told News 9’s Jessi Mitchell. “We’re just wrapped differently.”

She wants to empower minority women through her art, and that is why she was so drawn to the poem ‘Why The Caged Bird Sings’. Her piece, entitled 'Maya Angelou's Words', puts the poet and her poem inside the metaphor of the caged bird versus the free one, representing the hardships many women still face.

“They can’t do certain things or go certain places because of that,” Lilyanna said, “and the free bird can represent someone who has supporting family and people telling them that they can go far. They have no limitations.”

She has been sketching for years, but she elevated her work after joining US Grant's art club, under the direction of Don Anderson.

“I’m so super proud of her,” Anderson said. “I’ve had other students win things, but never to that level. She’s a fantastic kid.”

Most surprising about her accomplishment, it's Lilyanna's first watercolor painting ever.

“I was skeptical at first, but Mr. Anderson really helped a lot,” said the artist.

Her teacher recalled, “She just pushed into another level, which was very exciting. She was totally willing to ruin her piece, and if you’re willing to ruin the piece, then you can get it to that next point.”

That effort pushed Lilyanna all the way to the nation's capital.

She said, “It was exciting and very nerve-wracking, since it was my first time on a plane.”

After meeting legislators and collecting her award, she is already getting scholarship offers, and she has yet to even started her junior year. It is an example of the importance of art programs like the one offered at US Grant.

Now the artist hopes her work inspires others to break free from the cage, too. Lilyanna’s art will be on display in Washington for a full year.