Indian Americans continued to demonstrate their spelling prowess when Snigdha Nandipati, a 14-year-old girl, correctly spelled guetapens, a French word for ambush, to win the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee crown.
She thus retained the coveted national honour for the community, that has been steadily growing in profile and influence, for the fifth straight year.
“It’s a miracle,” said Nandipati from San Diego, California, as she pipped fellow Indian-American Stuti Mishra, of Florida who stumbled over ‘schwarmerei’, German for extravagant enthusiasm, in the last round of the final at a convention centre outside Washington on Thursday night.
Nandipati, an avid reader and coin collector who aspires to become a psychiatrist or neurosurgeon, gets $30,000 (Rs 16.67 lakh) in cash, a trophy, a $2,500 (Rs 1.40 lakh) savings bond, a $5,000 (Rs 2.77 lakh) scholarship, and reference works from the Encyclopedia Britannica and an online language course.
Nandipati plays violin and is fluent in Telugu. She is the fifth consecutive Indian-American winner and 10th in the last 14 years. The Indian-American community’s victory run began in 1999 when Nupur Lala captured the crown. Anamika Veeramani scored a hat-trick for Indian-Americans by taking the crown in 2010.
With Arvind Mahankali of Bayside Hills, New York, a finalist for the last two years, the three Indian American kids were the top spellers left in the last round from among the nine who made the finals on Thursday. Forty-one spellers, meanwhile, heard the dreaded bell that signals an incorrect spelling in the semi-finals.
>> Vetiver: Fragrant extract obtained from Indian grass
>> Schwarmerei: Excessive, unbridled enthusiasm