New Brunswick, NJ – Siyona Mishra of Orlando, Florida correctly spelled the word “zubrowka” (a dry straw-colored chiefly Russian liqueur of vodka flavored with herbs) during the 2016 MassMutual South Asian Spelling Bee finals to clinch the title of national champion and took home a cash prize of $10,000 from MassMutual
Ananya Kodali from Highland Village, Texas and Shruthika Padhy from Cherry Hill, New Jersey were tied for National Runner-Up at the MassMutual initiative on Aug.5, which was taped live for broadcast on Sony Entertainment Television
The initiative was organized by multicultural advertising firm Touchdown Media Inc. and sponsored by MassMutual, a mutual life insurance company that is run for the benefit of its members and participating policy owners. Sony Entertainment Television was the exclusive rights holder and broadcast the initiative across the globe in over 120 countries, Britannia is the presenting sponsor while Kawan Foods returns as the powered by sponsor for the initiative which is now in its 9th year.
“We are truly impressed with these brilliant and talented spellers. We understand their success takes dedicated support from their parents and families. MassMutual shares the same passion about bringing financial education to the South Asian community. It was an honor to be a part of this great event that helps shape our future generation of leaders,” said Wonhong Lee, Assistant Vice President, Diverse Markets, MassMutual Financial Group.
The special guest at the finals was last year’s National Champion, Shourav Dasari, who helped co-host a portion of the initiative.
“It fills my heart to see such talented, young spellers from across the country who make us proud as a community. The initiative is unique in its reach and engagement and we are very blessed to have the patronage of these families who make it a prestigious platform. My hearties congratulations to Siyona.” said Rahul Walia, Founder.
The initiative was open to children up to 14 years of age and was held in 12 regional centers across the United States. These areas included, New Jersey, DC Metro area, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Seattle, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Bay Area, Charlotte, and the newly added international center in Ghana.
The contest was conducted in written and oral format at the regional levels which served as the elimination as well as selection process for the finalists.
After registering their child online, parents brought them to the designated center and a 25-word written test was administered. Children had to spell 15 or more words correctly to qualify for the afternoon oral round and from there the top three were awarded prize money and the top two qualified for the finals.
“We are extremely happy with Siyona’s win at the Bee as it goes to show that todays South Asian kids are all rounders and highly dedicated to their craft. We produced a special section called “Meet the Spellers where the viewers will have an opportunity to get to know some of the spellers including Siyona better,” said Tim Tan, Managing Director, Kawan Food, makers of the world’s most popular Roti Paratha Brand in the world – Kawan Paratha.
“Nail Biting contest year after year and I personally was unable to get up during the bee! It’s amazing to see the pool of talent from our community and am happy for Siyona Mishra’s win and excited to get to know her and some of the other spellers better in the “Meet the Speller” series airing shortly on Sony,” said Jaideep Janakiram, Head of North America, Sony Entertainment Television-Asia.
Children up to 14 years of age were eligible to participate and the contest saw spellers of even 6 years of age compete and make it past a few rounds. Registration for 2017 will open in October this year.