Thursday night 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde won the 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee. With her win she became the first African-American winner in the competition’s 96-year history. She is only the second Black winner of the bee, the first being Jody-Anne Maxwell of Jamaica in 1998. She also the first winner from her state.

Zaila competed in the 2019 bee but didn’t make the finals. This is impressive considering she only got serious about spelling over the last two years. She actually developed a new dual monitor study technique to combat the slow speed of her internet.

The annual competition actually was not held last year due to the pandemic. Additionally, winning this year was harder than in previous years because of the new rules that were added such as vocabulary rounds.

The eighth grader from Harvey, Louisiana, won by spelling the word “murraya,” after cracking a Bill Murray joke.

As impressive as her spelling bee victory is there is a good chance that she will gain just as much notoriety for her basketball prowess. She is a top middle school basketball prospect and actually holds three Guinness World Records for various basketball skills.

Her future goals are just as diverse as her current skill-set. In previous interviews, she has mentioned wanting to be everything from an NBA coach to a neuroscientist. Considering she is both an elite athlete and a scholar, her options are limitless.

An original version of this appeared on Indy Ed.


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