A knack for spelling runs in the Sujoe family.
Four years ago, Angel Sujoe and Sujoe Bose traveled from Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., to watch their son Ansun Sujoe compete in the National Spelling Bee. It was Ansun's second straight year to make nationals out of Fort Worth.
Now, the parents are gearing up for another trip to Washington, D.C. — this time they will be cheering their daugther, Hephzibah Sujoe.
Hephzibah correctly spelled the word "tenebrism" — she had already mastered "slurvian," "zwinger," "quixote" and "gymkhana" — to win the 2018 Regional Spelling Bee at TCU.
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"I was really excited and surprised, but I gave all glory to God because he is the only one that helped me through the bee," said Hephzibah, who attends Bethesda Christian School in north Fort Worth, near Haltom City.
The Fort Worth sixth-grader was in the round 16 of competition at the 2018 Regional Spelling Bee contest at TCU when she correctly spelled the winning word. Tenebrism, if you didn't know, describes a style of painting.
That's when she became the 2018 Regional Spelling Bee Champion and earned an all-expense paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. on May 29-31. She also received $200, a TCU audit course opportunity, a 1-year subscription of Encyclopedia Britannica online, and a $100 Samuel Louis Sugarman award.
The regional bee, held Thursday, was sponsored in part by the Star-Telegram and hosted and coordinated by the TCU College of Education.
Contestants attend public, private, parochial, charter and home schools.
A day after the local spelling bee, Hephzibah participated in a speech competition. In fact, competition has been a way of life for her in recent weeks. She has competed in several math competitions, including Math Olympics, said her mother, Angel Sujoe.
Hephzibah competed in the Math Olympics after having the flu. Angel Sujoe said she thought maybe they should sit out a competitive event, but her daughter brushed that notion away.
She said, 'Mom don't give up,' " Angel Sujoe said, adding that her daughter dove into math competition.
"She came first. I couldn't even believe it," Angel Sujoe said. "She has amazing perseverance. She doesn't easily give up."
Hephzibah, who wants to be an engineer, has the same approach to spelling. She practices spelling randomly selected words for hours.
"She works through thousands, thousands of words," Angel Sujoe said.
Hephzibah, whose name means "God delights in her," said her faith carries her through her efforts.
"It's the most important thing — it is the foundation of what I am doing right now," Hephzibah said.
Hephzibah plays violin, flute and piano. She paints and writes calligraphy.
"She has beautiful handwriting, and she works on it," Angel Sujoe said.
Hephzibah also ministers to the elderly in nursing homes once a month through song and Scriptures. In her free time, she plays soccer and basketball.
Nancy Berman, dean of the Bethesda Christian School's elementary education, said the Sujoe children have a strong work ethic.
"They are great stewards of the God-given gifts they have been given," said Berman, who coordinates the campus' spelling bee competition. "They are so humble about their achievements."
Hephzibah's brother Ansun won the regional spelling bee contest in 2013 while he was attending Keller's Parkwood Hill Intermediate School. In 2014, while a student at Bethesda Christian School, he won the regional competition again.
That year Ansun shared the national title with Sriram Hathwar, 14, of Corning, N.Y.
Hephzibah said her brother got her interested in spelling.
"He set the standard for me," she said. "I really want to follow in his footsteps."
Asked how the family ended up with two spelling whiz kids, Sujoe Bose said: "That's sort of how we bring them up. Her brother set a high bar. She caught on with that."
This article contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.