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Spelling Bee Champions Visit the White House

President Obama welcomes 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee co-champions Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe to the Oval Office.

On Monday, President Obama welcomed 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee co-champions Sriram Hathwar and Ansun Sujoe to the Oval Office.

Sriram Hathwar, an eighth grader from Painted Post, New York, and Ansun Sujoe, a seventh grader from Fort Worth, Texas, were named co-champions of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 29. The co-champions went through a series of regional competitions and preliminary rounds before making it to the nationally televised championship, becoming the first co-champions of the “Bee” in over 50 years.

In Ansun’s spare time, he enjoys solving complex math problems and programming robots. As technology expands at a rapid rate, we need more of our young people to have access to high-quality STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, which is why President Obama has made it a priority to invest in STEM. It's why he launched the "Educate to Innovate" initiative to prepare new STEM educators and bolster federal investment in STEM, and it's why he launched the ConnectED initiative to empower teachers with the best technology available to enrich the education of students. It’s also why the President supports Women in STEM initiatives that help clear hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in STEM fields. 

Sriram, a student at the Alternative School for Math and Science in Corning, New York, encourages others to read by volunteering at his local library, in addition to his many talents and activities. Sriram’s dedication to public service is especially noteworthy given the busy schedule of a national champion. 

Having studied spelling and other subjects since they were little, Sriram and Ansun showed us what happens when kids get a head start on their education. Research has shown that the early years in a child’s life are a critical opportunity to develop a child’s full academic, social, and cognitive potential, and that high-quality preschool can make a big difference. That’s why President Obama called on Congress to expand access to high-quality pre-K to every child in America. And it’s why the President’s comprehensive early education agenda would create a series of investments in high-quality early learning to prevent achievement gaps before they start — to ensure that low-income families don’t hear 30 million fewer words than their peers before age 3. President Obama has been an avid supporter of the Head Start program, which continues to be one of the best investments in helping our most vulnerable children get a strong start in life.

Sriram and Ansun are examples of what is possible when young people put their minds to something. We should all be proud of and celebrate these two young competitors’ commitment to excellence.