Indian-American Rishi Nair wins National Geographic Bee contest

Rishi Nair (second from right) a sixth grader from Florida took top honors at the 28th annual National Geographic Bee held at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, May 25.
Rishi Nair (second from right) a sixth grader from Florida took top honors at the 28th annual National Geographic Bee held at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, May 25. ~ Photo / courtesy PTI

WASHINGTON (TIP): Indian-American students have swept the prestigious national bee competitions, securing the first three positions for this year’s National Geographic Bee championship finals.

Rishi Nair, 12, a sixth grader from Florida took top honors at the 28th annual National Geographic Bee held at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington.

As National Geographic Bee champion, Rishi received a USD 50,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. This is the fifth consecutive year that an Indian-American has won the prestigious national tournament.

Eighth-grader Saketh Jonnalagadda, 14, from Massachusetts was the runner up and recipient of the USD 25,000 college scholarship. Third place and a USD 10,000 college scholarship was grabbed by Kapil Nathan, a 12-year-old sixth-grader from Alabama.

The final question, which clinched the win for Rishi, was: “A new marine sanctuary will protect sharks and other wildlife around Isla Wolf in which archipelago in the Pacific Ocean?”. The answer was: “Galapagos Islands”.

Rishi is the second Florida student to win the National Geographic Bee. In 2010, eighth-grader Aadith Moorthy of Palm Harbor was the national champion.

In fact, it was a nail-biting, seven-question final round between Rishi and Saketh. Seven of the 10 finalists were Indian-Americans.

The seven other finalists, who each won USD 500, were Grace Rembert of Montana, Rishi Kumar of Maryland, Pranay Varada of Texas, Lucas Eggers of Minnesota, Samanyu Dixit of North Carolina, Thomas Wright of Wisconsin and Ashwin Sivakumar of Oregon.

Indian-American students have consistently performed exceptionally well at various bee competitions over the years. The spelling bee competition has produced Indian-American champions for eight consecutive years, and 13 of the past 17, a run that began in 1999.

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