School: Eighth grade, Vicenza Middle School, Department of Defense School, Vicenza, Italy
Words aced: Fräulein
A three-time defending champion of the U.S. Department of Defense Europe Spelling Bee, this studious eighth grader has been described as a "spelling machine" who "dissects words with the cool efficiency of a surgeon." "That’s what I look forward to – not winning, but ending," Anuk Dayaprema said after winning the March qualifiers. "I mean, winning, too. But being up there, you get butterflies in your stomach."
Anuk had been accepted into Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth and aspires to become a neurosurgeon. He is fluent in Sinhalese and counts U.S. Special Operations Commanding General Bryan "Doug" Brown as his role model. "I hope I can at least get past prelims and hopefully get a good place in semis," he says of the national competition.
In an email to MSN News, Anuk said he was "honored, as well as privileged" to take part in the National Spelling Bee.
When asked how he prepared for the rule changes going into effect this year, which adds multiple choice vocabulary tests to the annual competition, Anuk said that he paid close attention to foreign roots and their definitions.
"Rather than let this new change dismay contestants, I think that the participants should take the new change in their stride, since this is the first time in 86 years that the rules of the Spelling Bee have been changed, especially for the better," he said.