Geographic Bee win fulfills a teenager’s longtime dream
by Ben Nuckols, Associated Press
May 22, 2014 12:12 AM | 902 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Third place winner Tuvya Bergson-Michelson, 13, of Hillsborough, Calif., left, second place winner Ameya Mujumdar, 11, of Tampa, Fla., center, and first place winner Akhil Rekulapelli, 13, of Sterling, Va., hold their awards at the National Geographic Society in Washington on Wednesday. Rekulapelli, who wants to attend Stanford, received a $50,000 scholarship. <br> The Associated Press
Third place winner Tuvya Bergson-Michelson, 13, of Hillsborough, Calif., left, second place winner Ameya Mujumdar, 11, of Tampa, Fla., center, and first place winner Akhil Rekulapelli, 13, of Sterling, Va., hold their awards at the National Geographic Society in Washington on Wednesday. Rekulapelli, who wants to attend Stanford, received a $50,000 scholarship.
The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON — Akhil Rekulapelli has his life mapped out. The 14-year-old wants to attend Stanford University and become a doctor, probably a surgeon.

But he knows it will be a while before he achieves anything as satisfying as his victory Wednesday in the National Geographic Bee, which came after a close call last year and a lifelong interest in nations, cities, cultures and history.

“I probably want to be the head of a department at a hospital — try to graduate at the top of my class — but I think, right now, this is probably the biggest accomplishment I’ll ever achieve in probably 20, 30 years,” said Akhil, an eighth-grader from Sterling. “It’ll be a while.”

Akhil outlasted nine other finalists and answered all three questions correctly in a one-on-one showdown with his youngest rival, 11-year-old Ameya Mujumdar, of Tampa.

The decisive question: What African country is building a new capital called Oyala in the rain forest, 65 miles east of the current capital, Bala? The answer: Equatorial Guinea.

Akhil received a $50,000 scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos Islands with his family and a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society. The winning scholarship was doubled from last year thanks to a donation from “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek, who stepped down a year ago as host of the bee. Broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien hosted this year.

Ameya, the runner-up, wowed the crowd on a tiebreaker question when he was able to recall the Earth’s precise diameter at the equator — 7,926 miles. He received a $25,000 scholarship. Tuvya Bergson-Michelson, of Hillsborough, was third and received a $10,000 scholarship, and Pranit Nanda, of Aurora, was fourth and won $1,000 in cash.

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