This year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee once again highlights the strength of the bee ecosystem within the Indian American community.
It has been a historic year at the Scripps National Spelling Bee contest. With eight contestants crowned co-champions this year, it can be said with certainty that spelling bee continues to be a big draw for students across America.
Indian Americans have extended their dominance yet again this year. This is the 12th year in a row the National Bee has produced Indian American winners.
The results also show the ever-strengthening bee ecosystem within the community and a growing number of Indian Americans that are pursuing spelling bee very seriously.
Part of the ecosystem is platforms such as South Asian Spelling Bee (SASB), where Indian American students hone their skills to become expert spellers.
“Indian Americans live in an environment that encourages academics given the family backgrounds of most,” Rahul Walia, founder of SASB, told the American Bazaar on Friday. “Usually both parents are highly educated and come from the Indian school system that emphasizes a robust learning structure. Spellers growing up here imbibe the same culture.”
The South Asian Spelling Bee, an annual annual event for South Asian American children, is one of the competitions where Indian American spellers test their skills, prior to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, year after year.
In fact, out of the 7 Indian American winners this year, 6 have been SASB veterans, said Walia, adding that some of the spellers even got their start at his event.
The 2019 winners who have honed their skills at SASB are:
- Rishik Ganhasri, the 13-year-old from San Jose, California is a seventh grader at Chaboya Middle School. His brother Rutvik, also a SASB alum is qualifying from the Bay Area regionals.
- Abhijay Kodali is a 12-year-old from Flower Mound, Texas. A sixth-grader from McKamy Middle School, his sister Ananya has also participated and qualified for SASB finals. Abhijay was the National Runner up at the 2018 SASB finals.
- Shruthika Padhy 13, is from Cherry Hill, NJ and was a finalist at 2018 SASB.
- Rohan Raja, 13 from Dallas, Texas is a seventh grader at Coppell Middle School West
- Sohum Sukhantar, 13 from Dallas, Texas is a seventh-grader at St Mark’s School of Texas. Sukhantar was the 2018 champion at SASB.
- Christopher Serrao, 13 from Whitehouse Station, NJ was also a finalist at the 2018 SASB.
Walia, who founded SASB 13 years ago, said the spelling bee “provides a competitive platform” for the spellers “where they excel while exhibiting their learning prowess that is fueled by diligence, hard work and passion.”
Does a brilliant speller go on to do extraordinary things in other aspects, too?
Walia says that there is enough evidence to think so. “While preparing for spelling bee, most will attest to the fact that it teaches them life skills and learnings that they use in all aspects of their academic and professional career,” he said. “They are diligent, strategic, analytical, hard working and can multitask while expanding their vocabulary and learning about languages and words.”
Walia said a majority of spellers “go to Ivy League colleges and pursue multiple degrees and varied disciplines while excelling in extra-curricular activities.”