8-year old Fil-Am is national Spanish spelling bee champ

Cheryl Piccio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 23 2019 08:29 PM

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RICHMOND, Texas - An 8-year old Filipino-America from Richmond took home the top award in the 9th Annual National Spanish Spelling Bee in Denver, Colorado last month.

Fil-Am Kirsten Santos speaks four languages — English, Tagalog, Spanish, and Mandarin.

"They said there's going to be a Spanish bee for elementary grades 3rd, 4th, and 5th. That's when my dad asked me if I wanted to take part in the campus Spanish spelling bee and I said yes," Santos said.

For two hours every day, Santos began studying her Spanish dictionary, mastering the spelling and pronunciation of over 60,000 Spanish words.

"Well, for the National Spanish Spelling Bee not only did I study the current 2019 list, but I studied the previous list...2015 to 2018," she said.

And win she did with 9 finalists advancing to the final round. Santos became the youngest and the only elementary student, three grades below her fellow co-champions.

When she won, she even delivered a 5-minute acceptance speech on stage.

Apart from excelling in academics, Santos loves to sing and play the piano, which she learned by ear.

She also has big plans for the future.

"I want to be a neurosurgeon," she said.

Santos, who’s thankful for her parents’ support, wants a repeat championship in 2020.

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