Spelling bee winner encouraged by grandmother’s last words

Steven Verburg:

The Madison girl who won the state spelling bee Saturday almost didn’t show up for the event, even though she qualified to be there with a victory in last month’s citywide bee.
Aisha Khan, 13, said she felt too upset a few weeks ago after she and her parents returned from a sad visit to India, where they comforted Aisha’s maternal grandmother in the days before she died of cancer at the age of 63.
The grandmother, Asgari Noor, helped raise Aisha, and the girl visited her for three months every summer, so it took some effort to overcome her grief. In the end, Aisha took her place in the state competition because of something her grandmother told her.
“That was the last thing she told me to do, ‘Get first place,'” Aisha said.
Aisha did just that in the state bee, which is sponsored by the Wisconsin State Journal, by outlasting 47 other top spellers from around the state.
Aisha now advances to the national competition in Washington, D.C., held May 26 to June 1.