Zaila Avant-Garde made history when she won the 2021 spelling bee competition as she became the first black student ever to do so.
Nihar Janga from Texas tied with Jairam Hathwar of Painted Post, New York for youngest spelling bee champion honors in 2016. Both 11-year old champions had similar spelling bee records at that time.
Recently, seven out of eight winners have been Indian American. This trend should not be overlooked.
Table of Contents
Akash Vukoti of San Angelo, Texas is an American spelling prodigy who currently competes in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Previously he appeared on various TV programs such as Little Big Shots with Steve Harvey and Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
Akash has been home-schooled and competing in spelling bees since he was 2. This year he is competing in his first national spelling bee and making history as the youngest contestant ever to reach its final round.
Youngster isn’t afraid of taking risks and has an impressive work ethic, which includes prioritizing tasks and planning ahead for challenges. His mother says she’s proud of all his accomplishments and hopes he continues his commitment to learning.
Akash was narrowly denied a national championship this year, yet has still achieved much. He participated in two national spelling bees and was recognized as a Davidson Young Scholar; additionally he has appeared on both HBO and BBC documentaries as a star performer.
The 6-year-old has garnered numerous awards for his spelling skills, and is widely known for his humor and sportsmanship. He has won over millions of fans online despite his success yet remains humble enough not to forget where his roots lie.
Vukoti’s parents, Krishna and Chandrakala Jandyam, both scientists from India who emigrated to America. His family speaks both English and Telugu fluently.
Vukoti impressed judges during the preliminary rounds of the national spelling bee with his quickness and accuracy in pronouncing words such as “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.”
He has also appeared on NBC show Little Big Shots with Steve Harvey, competing against host Steve Harvey in a spelling bee competition. During one episode he successfully corrected mispronunciations of “derriere”, while in another correctly spelling “connoisseur”.
Vukoti was also featured in a documentary film called Spelling The Dream, released on Netflix in 2022. This documentary shows Indian-American children’s success at national spelling bee competitions not just through luck alone but due to hard work and determination.
Young speller has done exceptionally well this year in various contests and hopes to secure her spot at national competitions. She has studied hard and been featured in several final rounds at various competitions; in addition, she has done exceptionally well at local and regional contests – something her parents are very proud of and hope will continue in future competitions.
Spelling bee winners receive not only prize money but also other valuable items including a reference library from Merriam-Webster, travel to Washington DC, and lifetime subscription to Britannica Online Edition – in addition to taking home their trophy and personalized certificate!
Devireddy doesn’t seem as excited by winning the spelling bee as other contestants; rather she seems more motivated by competing against older spellers and earning prestige from them. She told her parents she prefers being one of the world’s greatest spellers over being popular.
Though not exclusive to people of South Asian heritage, over time the vast majority of champions in this competition have been Indian Americans. From 2008-2018, 26 of 14 champions and seven of eight co-champions came from this demographic; Nihar Janga who won his Bee in 2016 at 11 years old was one such champion.
Edith Fuller is currently the youngest contestant and won her regional competition when she was only five. Competing against more than 50 students in Tulsa area schools, Edith successfully spelled “jnana,” meaning knowledge acquired through meditation according to Hindu tradition. According to Tulsa World reports that Edith represents TBC Home Education Fellowship during this competition.
The 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee is scheduled to take place May 30-June 1, in Maryland. This competition is open to people aged nine or above, and Dr. Jacques Bailly, who has served as its official pronouncer since 1980 and associate pronouncer prior to that, will emcee the event.
As the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee kicks off in Washington, many children are competing for a chance at the grand prize of $200,000. But one pint-sized spelling champion is making history in her own way: Edith Fuller is just 6 years old, yet is the youngest contestant ever seen at any competition of this nature. Fuller qualified for it through Green County Regional Spelling Bee in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she eliminated words such as jnana (Sanskrit for “knowledge”) virgule punctuation mark) and weimaraner breed of dog to win her spot at national bee competition.
Home-schooled student Fuller has the freedom to make her own progress. According to KJRH, Fuller was completely unaware that she had such an aptitude for spelling until they started testing her at home and decided to enroll her in a spelling program that could prepare her for a national spelling bee competition.
Fuller proved her mettle at the regional spelling bee by holding her own against competition that was significantly older than she. She even made it past the initial televised round – where contestants compete live before an audience of viewers – which showcases spelling bee contestants competing onstage in front of an audience.
Fuller then won the second televised round against spellers named Aiguillette, Jacamar, and Pendeloque. Fuller faced two-time champion Ananya Vinay for top prize; Vinay correctly spelled marocain at the very last word in competition!
Spelling bees can be an exciting event with much at stake for children participating in them, including winning $40,000 cash and coming in second for $20,000. Furthermore, most events are televised nationally for maximum tension!
Fuller is determined to reach her goal of representing Washington on the national stage, carrying around a binder filled with dictionary pages and monitoring her progress online. When not studying or writing stories, Fuller enjoys reading or writing stories – she even loves animals and hopes one day to become a veterinarian; in the meantime she’s currently writing her own fairy tale book!
Zaila Avant-Garde, at just 17 years old, has already accomplished much. As 2021 National Spelling Bee Champion she is an impressive multi-talent teenager; having written two books, competing in 18 rounds of competition, and poring over thousands of words with her father during two-year journey to finals competition – becoming youngest winner ever! Her win made history!
Eighth grader from Harvey, Louisiana named Murraya won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee, beating Chaitra Thummala and becoming its youngest African American champion. As she celebrated with colorful confetti showering her, she gave thanks for hard work and studying; but also gave credit to some difficult words such as “nepeta”, which provided an easy clue as to its correct spelling (for instance it sounded similar to comedian name “Nepeta”).
Zaila not only competes in spelling bees but is also an accomplished basketball player, having competed on both national and junior national basketball teams. Additionally, she has appeared in commercials and provided tutoring to NBA stars Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade on topics related to spelling, dribbling, and math.
Even with her busy schedule, she finds time for friends and relaxation. An active social media user, she posts a lot of photos on Instagram; many include inspiring messages for all age groups that encourage her followers to pursue their goals.
This year’s spelling bee was held despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, contestants competed fiercely to become national champion – including six year-old champions from Texaan and Oklahoma!
This year’s bee was especially competitive. A record number of young spellers entered, including one with only two weeks preparation! From Latin alphabet words to Welsh phrases – there was something challenging for everyone at this year’s contest!