Richmond, TX — If you ever get a chance to meet 8-year old Filipino American Kirsten Santos from Richmond, you can tell she’s full of personality.
But don’t let her adorable charm fool you. She is all about business — at least when it comes to spelling.
Kirsten took home the top award in the Ninth Annual National Spanish Spelling Bee in Denver Colorado last month, despite her being younger than her competitors, and despite Spanish not being spoken at her home.
Kirsten speaks four languages — English, Tagalog, Spanish and Mandarin!
“They said there’s going to be a Spanish be 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 period and I said YES!”
And so for two hours every day, Kirsten began studying her Spanish dictionary– mastering the spelling and pronunciation of over 60,000 Spanish words.
This Pinay kid was determined to win.
“Well, for the national Spanish spelling bee not only did I study the current 2019 list, but I studied the previous lift. 2015 to 2018.”
And win she did — with 9 finalists advancing to the final round, Kirsten became the youngest and the only elementary student, three grades below her fellow co-champions.
When she won, Kirsten even delivered a 5-minute acceptance speech on stage.
“This is my first time being here, it was a wonderful opportunity, to be representing my school in the nationals. That was amazing! I know right?”
Besides excelling in academics, Kirsten 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.”
Kirsten, who’s thankful for her parents’ support, wants a repeat championship in 2020.
“I won the national Spanish spelling BEE!”