Rhabdoid. It means "shaped like a rod." But for 14-year-old Faith Baca from Aurora, it means a trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee. She spelled that word correctly at the state bee earlier this year.
"I’ve always been interested by words and language," said Baca, an 8th grader.
She's also an avid reader.
"I mean I'm reading everything not just books."
And she's passionate about languages. She wants to learn Spanish, French, Latin, Italian, German and Vietnamese. She's clearly an ambitious and brilliant teenager. But being a spelling bee champion takes even more.
"I think anyone who gets into the spelling bee really has to want it, you have to set goals and you have to want to win," Baca said.
Faith has memorized lists and list of words. She studies etymology and languages of origin. And she fuels her competitive fire by watching other spellers. Last year, Faith went to the national bee as a spectator to watch and get motivated. This year she’ll be on the stage.
"As soon as I saw what the winners were like in person, I was like, I want to be there next year. So I just studied so hard to get there and that’s where I'm going!
291 spellers will compete in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee. First place prize is $40,000, and the second place prize is $30,000. ESPN has televised the Bee since 1994, and will continue this year with an evening broadcast of the Finals on Thursday June 1.