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Zaila Avant-garde, 1st Black Scripps Spelling Bee Winner, Fielding Full-Ride Scholarship Offers

Zaila Avant-garde made history last week as the first Black champ of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and the wins just keep coming.

The 14-year-old Harvey, Louisiana, native, who outlasted 208 other competitors Thursday for the Scripps championship and $50,000 cash prize, has now been offered full-ride scholarships from at least three colleges and universities in Louisiana.

Southern University President Ray Belton announced over the weekend that, in addition to a scholarship offer, he would institute a “Zaila Day” for the teen phenom, who also holds several Guinness world records related to basketball, her first love.

Zaila, who began competing in spelling bees two years ago, became the first African American winner in the Scripps competition’s 93-year history by spelling “murraya,” a classification of citrus trees.

“It felt really good to win because I have been working on it for like two years. So, to actually win the whole thing was like a dream come true,” she told CNN. “I felt like in the moment I snapped out of a surreal dream.”

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