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Panelists 2012-2013

Kavya Shivashankar


In 2009, Kavya won the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a dream come true after nearly 7 years of hard work. Kavya's goal of winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the longest-running educational contest in the United States of America, coupled with persistent hard work came to fruition for her. After competing in this prestigious event four times and continually attaining a top ten rank, Kavya finally hoisted the coveted trophy in eighth grade. After the win, Kavya appeared on many TV shows and news channels. She was also invited to grace several events across the country as a guest and met many dignitaries, all of which culminated in a meeting with the President of the United States in the Oval Office.

Kavya continues to display her passion for the English language through volunteering in the community to help other children reach for success in the area of spelling. Kavya also contributes to her own blog site with a primary objective of sharing her spelling experience to help aspiring spellers in their own spelling journey. On this blog (www.shivashankars.com), Kavya has written about her recent experience as a spelling bee pronouncer at a national event.

The discipline that Kavya inculcated through preparing for spelling bees has served her well beyond spelling bees. Kavya is now an 11th grader attending high school in Olathe, Kansas and aims to be a neurosurgeon in the future. She is always looking out for opportunities that will help her accomplish her aspirations. She is involved in an exclusive high school science program and actively participates in other science related clubs and activities at school. Kavya enjoys playing the violin and biking during her free time, and is currently learning Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance style.

Mirle Shivshankar


Mr. Mirle Shivashankar is a consulting IT Professional from Olathe, Kansas in the United States. He began his spelling bee career as a coach in 2003.

He has coached many students who have qualified for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Among them is his daughter Kavya Shivashankar, who won the coveted Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2009. Vanya Shivashankar, his second daughter, ranked 10th in the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Vanya, then a ten-year old fifth grader, also earned the distinction of the only speller who achieved a perfect score during the preliminaries of the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Mr. Shivashankar has been judging spelling bees and conducting workshops across the US for several years now. He is currently the word list manager and the chief judge for the NSF National Spelling Bee, in which Scripps-caliber students compete.