Two U.S. champs, four international victors at MOS World Championship

Unlike Super Bowl champions, the Microsoft Office wizards who emerged victorious at the 2014 Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship last week didn't really have the option to celebrate their triumph by announcing, "I'm going to Disneyland!" The six winners, along with competitors representing dozens of countries around the world, were already at The Happiest Place on Earth.

For the concluding round of the annual event, organized by testing provider Certiport and now in its 13th year, finalists traveled to Anaheim, Calif., to compete in the shadow of, well, the nearest summit is either Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, or the iconic Matterhorn. The roster of 2014 winners, announced at the end of last week, includes two American students, Dominique Howard of East Harlem Employment Service in New York City, N.Y., and Tyler Millis of Dunbar High School in Fort Myers, Fla. Howard was the Word 2007 champ, while Millis locked up the PowerPoint 2007 trophy. Joining them in the winners circle were Chan Ian Weng (Word 2010 champ) and Kin Ian Lo (Excel 2010), both of Macau, along with Arjit Kansal of India (PowerPoint 2010) and Ian Leitao Ferreira of Brazil (Excel 2007). (Pretty good year to be named "Ian," it would appear.)

Each of the winners received a $5,000 scholarship, awarded on the spot at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

Tyler Millis
Dominique Howard

Speaking on camera after the awards ceremony, Howard said that the "amazing" feeling of victory took her even more by surprise than winning the right to represent America in June. Among her favorite aspects of the event was having the opportunity to interact with competitors. "You get to meet tons of people," Howard said.

At age 21, Howard is just inside the upper limit for the competition, which is open to participation by Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification holders between the ages of 13 and 22. Howard, a receptionist at JPMorgan Chase by day and East Harlem student by night, is the first American woman to be named a Word world champion since the competition began.

Also interviewed by contest personnel shortly after learning about his victory, Millis, 16, said that waiting to hear the final announcement of the winners had his heart racing. "When they were calling out the names, it seemed like (the announcement) was going really slow," Millis said. "You're waiting for that first, like, little syllable to come out and see if that was your name." Like Howard, Millis notched a historic victory, becoming the first American PowerPoint champ.

The 137 finalists who traveled to Anaheim to compete represent a drop in the bucket of the worldwide competition, which attracted participation from more than 400,000 students in 130 countries worldwide. Certiport has already announced plans for next year's world championship, which will be held in Dallas, Texas.

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GoCertify's mission is to help both students and working professionals get IT certifications. GoCertify was founded in 1998 by Anne Martinez.