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Indian-Americans sweep national spelling bee

Washington: Indian-Americans have swept this year`s prestigious spelling bee competition with the top three spots being bagged by them.

Snigdha Nandipati, 14, an eighth-grade student from San Diego, California, correctly spelled the French word `guetapens` to be declared the national champion for the year 2012, beating eight other finalists in the competition. Snigdha became the fifth American of south Asian origin to win the venerable competition in as many consecutive years.

As the winner Snigdha will take home USD 30,000 in cash, a trophy, a USD 2,500 savings bond, a USD 5,000 scholarship, USD 2,600 in reference works from the Encyclopedia Britannica and an online language course.

The second spot went to 14-year-old Stuti Mishra from Orlando, Florida; while 12-year-old Arvind Mahamkali from New York bagged the third position in this nationally televised competition last night.

The three were among the nine finalists from the 278 national contestants. "I knew my words," Snigdha said soon after she won when asked "Is there any word you didn`t know?" She studied 10 to 12 hours on weekends and six hours on weekdays.

Immediately after winning the competition, Snigdha told the announcer that this is a "miracle." She apparently knew the word when she heard it. By winning the coveted title, Snigdha has won a trip to India, which her grandfather, who had especially travelled from India to attend the finals, had promised if she emerged at the top.

Snigdha enjoys reading random facts in encyclopedias, particularly those topics pertaining to science or history. In her spare time, she also likes to read whodunits and adventures, and she collects unique coins from around the world. Snigdha competes in Science Olympiad and has earned several medals.

She and her teammates will be attending the California state competition this year. At school, Snigdha participates in math club, MATHCOUNTS, Math Field Day and other math-related events.
She attends the San Diego Math Circle each week. Snigdha is an executive member of the school Yearbook Club and she plays violin. She is fluent in Telugu. Snigdha participated in the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee, tying for 27th place.

Stuti, who bagged the second position, likes to read, write and draw. She is interested in computer art and design, and she is currently learning computer programming. Stuti also likes to swim. She enjoys learning languages like French, and she can speak Hindi and Oriya.

At school, Stuti is a member of National Junior Honor Society and Math Bowl. She received state recognition for the Duke Talent Identification Program and the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Stuti likes to spend time with her family, especially playing and dancing with her sister. Stuti tied for 19th place in the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Arvind, according to Spelling Bee organizers, excels in math and science, and he can sing `The Elements` song by Tom Lehrer. He would like to become a physicist like his role model, Albert Einstein. In both 2009 and 2012, Arvind received an award for high honors from the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University.

Outside of school, Arvind participates in tennis, basketball, drama and Indian classical music. He speaks Telugu and Spanish, and he enjoys reading. Arvind`s favorite book is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Arvind participated in the 2010 and 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bees, tying for 9th place in 2010 and 3rd place in 2011.

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