Kavya Shivashankar became the 11th Indian-American to win the National Spelling Bee on Thursday night.

by Lauren Smith

“Spelling has been such a big part of my life,” says the Scripps Spelling Bee 2009 winner Kavya Shivashankar to the Associated Press.

The new champion dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon, but, at the same time, feels that nothing can truly replace spelling.  Shivashankar will most likely go on to compete in the International Brain Bee.

The 13-year-old Kansas girl who smiled after spelling every word took home over $40,000 in cash and prizes, as well as the desired spelling champion’s trophy Thursday night in Washington.  Shivashankar made four tries to win over the 10 remaining finalists.

According to Associated Press, her father, Mirle Shivashankar bragged that while his daughter may not put her competitive mindset on display “she still has that smile,” a trait that he calls it her “quality.”

Kavya Shivashankar is now the seventh Indian-American to win the championship in 11 years, including two back-to-back youngsters who also aspired to be brain surgeons.

The 1999 winner featured in a spelling documentary Spellbound Nupur Lala,was Shivashankar’s role model.  Lala is currently working as a research assistant in a neuro science lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology…

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