12-year-old Miami girl qualifies for final round of Scripps National Spelling Bee

Vasundara Govindarajan, 12, among 45 children left in competition


NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – A Miami middle school student is one of 45 children who will compete in the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday.

Vasundara Govindarajan, 12, was announced as a finalist Wednesday after two days of preliminary rounds near Washington, D.C. The original 284 contestants ranging in age from 6 to 14 were narrowed down using written tests and questions on stage. 

Govindarajan is a sixth-grader at Archimedean Middle Conservatory in southwest Miami-Dade County, according to her biography on the Spelling Bee's website. The spelling bee isn't her first taste of success: she has previously won a gold medal in the Miami-Dade Science Fair and hopes to become a neuroscientist. 

Govindarajan is one of 11 Floridians listed on the roster for the 2016 competition. Only one other, Sreeniketh A. Vogoti, 13, from Jacksonville made the finals. 

Spelling appears to be a family skill for the Govindarajans; brother Vaidya has twice competed in the National Spelling Bee. He tied for ninth place in 2010 and tied for 10th place in 2012. 

Thursday's final rounds are expected to be tougher than in years past. Organizers announced in April they could switch to a list of more difficult words if the final competitors do not appear to be challenged. The changes come following ties in the 2014 and 2015 bees, when students exhausted the list of final-round words. 

The final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee airs at 8 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.