This summer, the Scripps National Spelling Bee set records, with a new high of 516 students from nine different countries participating in the spelling contest. And Jillian Mitchell ’20 was there to help broadcast the competition to the whole world.
Mitchell applied to work at the spelling bee after hearing about the opportunity from a friend in the Cincinnati area, where Scripps, who puts on the competition, is based. She was selected and worked alongside 18 other students from Brown University, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Notre Dame, among other universities. Although it was her first time, many of her student colleagues were former Bee participants, she said.
Mitchell worked on the social media team, helping create Instagram stories for the event. Local sponsorship manager and Mitchell’s supervisor Nicole Dittoe noted that Mitchell’s work “offered a fun behind-the-scenes look at Bee Week” as well as highlighting some of the other aspects of the event, which “extends beyond just the onstage spelling,” Dittoe said.
Mitchell said that she enjoyed her role, and hopes to go back for the Bee next year as an opportunity to continue to meet new people, saying the connections she made this past time were “immediate and strong.”
Mitchell said she enjoyed “learning how [ESPN] does it,” relishing the chance to see how a major network puts on a national event. She also enjoyed “working behind the scenes,” something she often does not do as a vocal performance major.
But she was most impressed by “how much hard work and dedication you have to put in” to get to that stage, which is comprised of 7-14 year olds.
“It’s inspiring to see kids work so hard just for a shot,” she said.
The 2018 National Spelling Bee winner was 14-year- old Karthik Nemmani from McKinney, Texas.
Editor’s note: The University has a long-held connection with Scripps National Spelling Bee as former English professor Alex Cameron was the official pronouncer of the Scripps National Spelling Bee from 1981 to 2002. Cameron died in 2003.