2018 Bee Officials

Pronouncer, Tom Buckley

Tom Buckley has been a professor in the Department of Rhetoric & Writing at UT since 1993, when the department was established. His courses include Magazine Writing, Critical Reading & Persuasive Writing, and Rhetoric & Writing for High School English Teachers, and, in 2004, he was awarded the Silver Spurs Award for Teaching Excellence by the College of Liberal Arts. He’s also editor of two magazines, Texas Music and Authentic Texas, and occasionally writes for publications such as Austin Monthly and the Houston Chronicle.

Panel of Judges

Kate DiPronio, Kate is the Librarian at Cedar Valley Middle School in Round Rock ISD and taught 8th grade American history prior to becoming a librarian. Currently the Chair of the TX Assoc. of School Librarians, representing all school librarians in the state of Texas.

Cheryl Sawyer, Cheryl is the Director of the Advise TX College Advising Corps for The University of Texas at Austin.  In this capacity, she manages 21 college advisers working in high schools in five regions of Texas. She has more than 20 years of diverse experience in fund-raising, communications and program development.  She has a B.A. in psychology from Clark Atlanta University and a Master’s degree in Intercultural Administration from the School for International Training.

Nihar Janga, Nihar is a 13 year old native-born Austinite, 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee co-champion and the youngest ever in records to win the Bee at age 11. Nihar was the only contestant to achieve a perfect score in the preliminary rounds from 2016. He won the bee in his first time appearance. His winning word was Gesellschaft and he has spelled words such as Groenendael, Taoiseach, and promyshlennik on his way to winning the bee.
He lives with his parents and elder sister Navya in Steiner Ranch. He is a 7th grader at Canyon Ridge Middle School.