12:00 AM EST
August 16, 2012
School is starting, so you know what that means: Just nine months until the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Ohio touts the most winners with nine (dating back to 1927), including the state's two most recent champs hailing from Northeast Ohio. We checked in to see if they're still taking life one letter at a time.
William Kerek, 60, 1964 winner
WINNING WORD: sycophant THE MOMENT: "When the pronouncer first said the word, I knew it was in the bag. ... I really kind of rushed." THE PRIZE: $1,000 and a trip to New York City. AFTER HIGH SCHOOL: Kerek majored in chemistry at the College of Wooster and then studied medicine at The Ohio State University. TODAY: The Akron-based physician sees patients at about 10 area nursing homes. PRIME TIME: Kerek's name was mentioned in an episode of Frasier that dealt with spelling bees. SPELLING POLICE: Kerek says he catches himself gently pointing out common misspellings to coworkers. "There's no jail or tickets being handed out," he jokes.
Anamika Veeramani, 16, 2010 winner
WINNING WORD: stromuhr THE PRIZE: More than $40,000 in prizes. CONFIDENCE BOOST: "It really made me into a different person. ... I became a lot more sociable and a lot less shy." PREZ PASS: The North Royalton teen met with President Obama following her win. TODAY: Veeramani, a junior at Laurel School, was a summer intern at the Cleveland Clinic and wants to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. "Blood and gore in general don't scare me at all," she says. LOOKING FORWARD: "I don't want to be that person who [people say], Oh yeah, they won the spelling bee in eighth grade, [and] that's the only thing they have," says Veeramani, who also likes to dance and golf.