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Teen wins scholarship in health-term spelling bee

June 24, 2011|By TAYLOR ECKEL | taylor.eckel@herald-mail.com
  • Cassandra Li of Hagerstown spelled more than 100 words correctly and took second place in the Western Maryland HealthSpell June 4 in Frostburg, Md.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Esotropia. Xanthodont. Pogoniasis. Quotidian.

These are just a few of the more than 300 words Cassandra Li studied in preparation for the Western Maryland HealthSpell, a spelling bee that used health terminology.

The 13-year-old Hagerstown resident spelled more than 100 words correctly before misspelling "immunodeficiency" to win second place in the June 4 spelling bee in Frostburg, Md.

For her second-place finish, Cassandra won a $2,000 college scholarship.

The daughter of Lieyu and Huiyu Li, Cassandra will be an eighth-grader in the fall. She said she heard about the spelling bee when her science teacher at Smithsburg Middle School announced it to the class. She was interested in participating because of the potential to earn scholarship money.

Cassandra also said she has an interest in one day studying medicine.

"When I grow up, I want to be a doctor," she said, but added that she's not sure if she'll always be interested in medicine.

"That will probably change, because I'll have more interests along the way," she said.

Cassandra said that HealthSpell contestants were given lists of medical terminology to learn for the spelling bee. Most of the words on the lists were unfamiliar to her, she said, but added that she did not need to learn the definitions of the words.

To study the list, Cassandra said she recruited her 10-year-old sister to test her on the words.

"It was pretty easy," she said.

Cassandra said the HealthSpell was not her first time entering a spelling bee. She said she won the Pangborn Elementary spelling bee as a fifth-grader.

The Western Maryland HealthSpell was hosted by the Western Maryland Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and the Maryland Rural Health Association (MRHA). According to a press release, the purpose of HealthSpell is "to raise awareness of the health care workforce shortages by encouraging more students to pursue a healthcare career and consider practicing in Western Maryland upon completion of training."

In addition to scholarship money, the winners are guaranteed placement in a high school health career exploration program with the AHEC.

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