LSU offers spelling bee champ a scholarship

2 months ago 15
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BATON ROUGE - Multiple colleges are offering the 14-year-old Louisiana native who won the Scripps National Spelling Bee full-ride scholarships.

Saturday, new LSU President William Tate posted on social media he was offering Zaila Avant-garde a scholarship to attend LSU in a few years.

President of Southern University Ray Belton posted hours later, saying he would also like to offer a scholarship. Belton also included that Southern would hold a "Zaila Day" where she could meet with student leaders, faculty and alumni. 

Zaila Avant-garde @basketballasart performed at the highest level in the National Spelling Bee. Your academic performance reflected scholarship first! You modeled intellectual excellence. @LSU_Honors awaits. I write to offer you a full scholarship to attend LSU. Here for you!

— William F. Tate IV (@WFTate4) July 10, 2021

I am pleased to announce that @Southernu_BR is offering #ZailaAvantgarde a full scholarship and "#Zaila Day" at SU, part of the nation’s only #HBCU system. Our student leaders, faculty, and alumni look forward meeting with you. We welcome you to the #JaguarNation! #WeAreSouthern

— Ray L. Belton, Ph.D. (@SUSprez) July 10, 2021

Zaila Avant-garde won the competition Thursday night.  She had to spell the word "Murraya" which is a word for a type of tree. The winning prize is $50,000 in cash, along with a trophy.

The winning title makes Avant-garde, from Harvey, the first winner from Louisiana in the history of the competition, and the first African-American to ever win. According to AP News, the only other previous Black winner was Jody-Anne Maxwell in 1998, but was from Jamaica. 

And 'National Spelling Bee Champion' isn't her only title; she also holds three world records for dribbling multiple basketballs simultaneously. 

In the future, she hopes to attend Harvard, work for NASA, play in the WNBA and possibly coach in the NBA.

The Louisiana Community and Technical College System also offered her a full scholarship to attend any community and technical college in the state.

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