By:  Ammaar Mohammed

Words, words, words, funny example sentences, interviews, museums, drama, odd words, correct spellings, applause, never heard of words, bell rings, hard work, perseverance and standing ovations. That’s my one-sentence summary of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

First of all, I would like to thank Allah (SWT) for all success and for giving me an amazing family and a very supportive community.

It was a tremendous honor to represent Bayaan Academy first at the regional spelling bee and then on the national stage.

Alhamdulillah, I was blessed to have gained a one-of-a-kind experience at this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee. For the first time in my life, I was out of my comfort zone, I met new people, made new friends and shared common interests.

It was quite amazing. The 285 kids who took part in the Bee weren’t competing against each other. But rather, we collectively fought against the dictionary. This experience has helped me to become more calm and collected under pressure. It has inculcated in me a deep thirst to push myself to accomplish the impossible. It has taught me to set unrealistic goals, to dream of the impossible, and to work hard to make them happen.

At this assembly of enlightenment, I learned some lessons that I would like to share with you. First, to do great things, one must surround oneself with others striving for excellence. When surrounded by this group of well, let’s just say, nerds, I felt an urge to do better. I already wanted to start reviewing for next year’s Bee and was eager to memorize the roots of words and the dictionary itself all of a sudden. That’s why I believe that we need to work on building a new culture deeply rooted in excellence, to think big and to achieve in both dunya and aakhira.

Allah SWT has bestowed great intellect upon each one of us. It’s all about putting it to the right use – channeling our minds to do more. Think of anything that you are passionate about, and try to reach its pinnacle.

It is important to remember this hadith: “Verily, Allah loves that when anyone of you does a job, he should perfect it." (Al-Bayhaqi)  Though Allah alone is perfect, we should strive for perfection in all of our endeavors.