2010 National Spelling Champion Anamika Veeramani
National Spelling Bee 2010 winner, Anamika Veeramani, says winning word was one 'I studied
before' - According to the newly awarded Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion of 2010, 14-
year-old Anamika Veeramani, of North Royalton, Ohio, winning the spelling bee took "a lot of hard
work." Asked whether she had studied the winning word, "stromuhr," before, she said, "Yeah; I had
studied that word." Ms. Veeramani won the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in June first week
at an event broadcast live on ABC television from the Grand Hyatt hotel in Washington, D.C..
Anamika, an eighth grade student at the Incarnate Word Academy in Parma Heights, was competing
in her second consecutive Spelling Bee, after tying at fifth place last year. Ms. Veeramani beat out
273 other spellers from around the country and other countries such as Canada and Jamaica, to
remain standing and claim the Championship trophy. She admitted that during the competition in
Washington, she had made a couple of "informed guesses" on words she wasn't positive she knew.
One of these was "epiphysis" and the other was "mirin," a kind of Japanese wine made from rice.
The Champion gave credit to her family and a teacher at school for their support. She said her
mother helped her with her words, and her younger brother, who is good at geography, helped her
with geographic words. Even though she has now met one of the goals of her life, Ms. Veeramani
does not lack for goals for the future. Asked what she would like to do, she said that she wants to
write books in high school; get admitted into Harvard; and become a cardiovascular surgeon.
Their dominant performance follows a string of Spelling Bee victories by children of Indian-American
origin, including Nupur Lala in 1999, George Abraham Thampy in 2000, Pratyush Buddiga in 2002,
Sai Gunturi in 2003, Anurag Kashyap in 2005, Sameer Mishra in 2008 and Kavya Shivashankar in
For her win, Anamika received $30,000; she will also get an engraved cup, a $5,000 scholarship
from Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation, a $2,500 U.S. Savings Bond and a reference
library from Merriam-Webster, and $2,700 in reference words and the Britannica Test Prep
Precocious Package from Encyclopśdia Britannica. Reports quoted Anamika as saying, "It was too
It was an amazing experience. I usually have a poker face, so that's what that was."
Reflecting on the mystery of the enduring Indian passion for all things English, Anamika's father
commented, "This has been her dream for a very, very long time. It's been a family dream, too. I think
it has to do with an emphasis on education."
DesiShades recently got some time to talk to Anamika. Here are the excerpts from the talk.
DS: How did you get involved in Spelling Bee?
AV: Well, I am into North South Foundation contests right from my 2nd grade. I used to participate in NSF competitions. I donít really remember how I started the spelling bee, but I helped one of my friends in preparing for spelling and thatís where I got into spelling bee. I really donít remember how I got into this, but in my second grade I went to NSF and from then I started participating in Spelling Bee.
DS: How did you prepare for the spelling bee?
AV: As I was an eighth grader I really didnít have time to practice. I used to spend 5 hours of time on my spelling bee preparation. It was really hard and had to sacrifice a lot. All my friends were enjoying at the mall I used to sit and prepare for the spelling bee. I missed lot of social life. But the winning paid off. It is really a great experience.
DS: What are your favorite language/words?
AV: Well, I like my winning word (stromuhr). German is hard. As I said my winning word is German, I like German more. Indian language words are easy. One of my friend got lassie, to me itís easy, but it was hard for her. Some of the Indian words are difficult to pronounce.
DS: What do you think was a difficult language?
AV: I think French is hard, so as Latin and Greek. They are kind of close to each other, but they have different rules, and hard to follow them.
DS: How did you plan your preparation?
AV: I cannot memorize. I had to have a certain plan to follow and study. I used to do the root words, definition, origin of language, alternate pronunciation. There isnít any specific plan for the preparation. Whatever works for you is good. Study hard, work hard.
DS: Who were your coaches in this journey?
AV: My mom is my coach. She is very supportive and helpful. I have a younger brother who is 10 years and he is also interested in spelling bee. All my friends, family is really supportive to me. I thank all of them who encouraged me in this winning.
DS: Who are your role models?
AV: I really donít have any speller as a role model, but Dr. Bailey is my favorite. He is the nicest pronouncer. I like all the past champions, judges. Last yearís champion Kavya Shivashankar is a nice friend of mine. So all the team involved in this inspired me.
DS: What is your suggestion to aspiring spellers?
AV: Well, where ever you are, NSF or other spelling bees donít get sweat out of other spellers. Donít think you donít have a chance as last yearís 2nd place speller is ahead of you. Anybody can win the spelling bee. Itís not like previous years spellers can do well and not you. Be confident and donít get sweat out.
DS: What are some of your interests?
AV: I play violin. I am learning Indian dance Bharatanatyam for the past 8 years.
Is it because of Indian colonial history with Britain or is it something at the level of genetic programming? Whatever the explanation, there is no denying that Indians have a penchant for the English language, a trans-generational, linguistic love affair that gets transmitted even to far-flung diaspora. And that might well be the answer - that Indians are simply people who believe that hard work, a rigorous education and familial support are the keys to their dreams.
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