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National Spelling Champion Kavya Shivashankar


Kansas City, MO – Olathe eighth grader Kavya Shivashankar was the last speller standing on Thursday night's final round on the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She used a signature technique that she's known for, writing each letter of the word with her finger on her palm.

A student at California Trail Junior High School, Kavya's been training for this moment for years. Three years ago she took 10th place in the finals, two years ago she was eighth, and then last year she came in fourth. This year, Kavya confidently claimed the trophy and $40,000 in cash and prizes. KCUR's Susan B. Wilson caught up with Kavya Shivashankar on the Saturday after her victory.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Susan admits that her “first love” was radio, being an avid listener since childhood. However, she spent much of her career in mental health, healthcare administration, and sports psychology (Susan holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Bloch School of Business at UMKC.) In the meantime, Wilson satisfied her journalistic cravings by doing public speaking, providing “expert” interviews for local television, and being a guest commentator/contributor to KPRS’s morning drive time show and the teen talk show “Generation Rap.”
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