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Spelling bee champ studied with 30,000 flashcards created by dad

June 1, 2012 | 12:31 pm

Snigdha Nandipati, 14, of San Diego, gets hugs from her father, Krishnarao, and brother Sujan after her national event win in Maryland.

Snigdha Nandipati won almost $40,000 in prize and scholarship money when she was crowned champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and the 14-year-old says she thinks she'll save it for college.

That's good news for Snigdha's father, Krishnarao, because the San Diego eighth-grader wants to be a neurosurgeon. After what he did to help his daughter prepare, he has probably earned a little financial help.  

Krishnarao Nandipati is a software consultant by trade, so he created a computer program that could extract information from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. The program could create PDF flashcards for some of the most challenging words, and Krishnarao said he printed about 30,000 cards this year to help his daughter prepare.

"She tries to keep her school grades A+, and at the same time she does this," he said. "It's pretty impressive."

On top of that, his daughter said her training began when she was in kindergarten. Back then, Snigdha said, her father would read her words on signs and billboards during the drive to school and she would spell them back. She started competing in spelling bees as early as fourth grade, and won one a year later.

"Then we realized she had the potential," Krishnarao said.

He said his daughter preferred to research word etymology and other history when studying rather than simply trying to memorize as many words as she could. You practice Latin, he said he told her, for medical terms and Greek for words out of mythology. It was all great practice, he said, for anything, including medical school.

"My wife was saying, 'Oh, if you want to go to into the medical field, maybe the medical field is easier than the spelling bee,' " Krishnarao joked.


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-- Matt Stevens

Photo: Snigdha Nandipati, 14, of San Diego gets hugs from her father, Krishnarao, and brother Sujan after her national event win in Maryland. Credit: Alex Brandon / Associated Press