2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee champ, 14-year-old Sukanya Roy, met with President Obama in the Oval Office yesterday.
After shaking hands and posing for pictures, Obama asked Sukanya not just to spell cymotrichous but to explain how she arrived at the successful spelling that put the 2011 Times Leader/Scripps Northeast Pennsylvania Regional Spelling Bee champion atop 274 other spellers at the national bee. Sukanya told the president that while she didn’t recognize the word, the definition gave it away, since she knew how to spell the Greek roots for wavy and hair.
Obama also asked Sukanya what she had on tap this summer after her big win. After catching up with end-of-the year school work and getting ready for finals, she told the president, she gets to take a trip in July to Panama with her school ecology club.
The Roys waited for their meeting with Obama in the historic Roosevelt Room for about 20 minutes before the president invited them into the Oval Office for the 10-minute private meeting. Also in on the meeting was the 2010 spelling champ, Anamika Veeramani of Cleveland, who was unable to visit the White House last year.
Roy’s victory makes the fourth consecutive time that an Indian-American has emerged on top at the national spelling bee. Obama asked the Roys and Veeramanis what they thought contributed to all that success in the national bee by Indian-Americans.
“We told him that Indian-Americans place a high value on hard work and education,” Abhi Roy said in the interview outside the White House.
photo Peter Souza, White House Photo