Practice is something the Sujoe siblings do well—from playing a string instrument like violin, to stringing letters together while perfecting their calligraphy.
“What do you like about calligraphy?” NBC 5’s Kristin Dickerson asked 11-year-old Hephzibah Sujoe. “Just kind of bringing out the beauty of letters,” Hephzibah said.
But it’s not the way the letters look that wins them awards, it’s the words those letters create.
The two compete in spelling bees.
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Hephzibah, started competing four years ago when she was in third grade. Now in sixth grade, she beat students from almost 500 schools earlier this month to win a regional competition, which qualified her for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
“So are you nervous about the national competition?” Kristin asked Hephzibah. “It’s kind of like a mix of being nervous and excited,” Hephzibah said.
Both are feelings that her older brother, 17-year-old Ansun, knows well.
As a seventh grader in 2014, Ansun won his regional spelling bee and then he won the Scripps National Spelling bee.
His trophy is proudly displayed at their family home in Fort Worth.
“I got to share this with my co-champion, but in the end we got our separate trophies,” Ansun said while proudly holding the very heavy award.
“Has spelling always come easy to you?” Kristin asked Ansun. “Oh no, especially not when I started,” Ansun said.
Their parents, Angel Sujoe and Sujoe Bose, say their children practiced spelling 6 days a week (although Ansun has now retired from spelling bee competitions and no longer has to practice).
“School days an hour, but Saturdays we work a little more probably 4-5 hours,” Angel said.
They also practice all year long—adding even more hours during the summer months when school is out.
Their family’s dedication was celebrated together after Ansun’s national win, which earned them a trip to the White House in 2014 to meet President Obama.
“He also left me a note that said, ‘dream big dreams’ and he signed his autograph in it,” Ansun said about then President Obama.
“I never ever even dreamt about it, I never dreamt about it that I would be in the White House one day and get to meet President Obama, so I give all the glory to God,” Angel said, after sharing that she grew up in a small community in India.
They are a family dedicated to success, whose children are learning skills and work ethic that will translate well into their futures.
“One success helps you drive for another success, so now I’m focusing on getting into a good college, getting a good job,” Ansun said. “So it’s kind of like one passion develops into another.”
The Sujoe siblings play three musical instruments a piece and they also compete in math, science, and speech competitions.
“We are really proud of them, and we are really blessed by them,” Angel said.