Dev Shah said the fact that he has won the 2023 Spelling Bee is still sinking in.
"Seeing other kids win the Spelling Bee probably inspired me the most because I said if they could do it, I could do it," was the confident response of Dev Shah, the Indian-American 14-year-old who won the prestigious 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee on June 1, when asked what prompted him to get into the world of spelling.
In an interview with NDTV yesterday, the eighth grader said he expected to spell the winning eleven-letter word 'psammophile' correctly because it was a word he had studied before. Merriam-Webster defines 'psammophile' as an organism that thrives in sandy areas.
"I developed an interest (in the Spelling Bee) starting sixth grade because that's when I really started seriously wanting to win and study spelling," Dev told NDTV.
Dev also said his grandmother has been an inspiration for him. "Yes, I am very close to my grandmother. She has been an inspiration to me and I am very grateful for her. She's been a great part of every moment from beginning to end, every moment," said the teenager.
Asked about the adrenaline rush in the last round of the Spelling Bee and the battle of wits with his competitor, Dev said, "Before my winning word, there was a commercial break and that was the most nerve-wracking experience of the competition. But me and Charlotte (Walsh), the second-place finisher, talked about what was going to happen next and that alleviated my nerves more."
Dev said the fact that he had won the 2023 Scripps Spelling Bee was still sinking in. "It is still sinking in right now, the process isn't over yet," he said.
When he was asked about his ambitions and what he wanted to do going forward, the 14-year-old indicated that he has diverse interests. "I want to be a neurosurgeon and also want to be an engineer. Those are very interesting career choices."
Asked about his India connection, Dev said he has visited India "once or twice, seven years ago". Dev is the 27th Indian-American to win the US Spelling Bee.