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First African American to win the National Spelling Bee gets offer of full LSU scholarship


By Theresa Waldrop, CNN

Zaila Avant-garde, the teenager who this week became the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, has earned yet another honor: an offer of a full scholarship to Louisiana State University.

“Your academic performance reflected scholarship first! You modeled intellectual excellence,” LSU President William F. Tate IV tweeted Saturday.

“@LSU_Honors awaits. I write to offer you a full scholarship to attend LSU. Here for you!,” Tate wrote.

The 14-year-old from Harvey, Louisiana, told CNN earlier this week, though, that she hopes to play basketball at Harvard University.

That would be before a career at NASA, or as a coach in the NBA, or a career in neuroscience or gene editing, the champion speller said.

Avant-garde competed against 208 other contestants from five countries to win the championship. She won Thursday night’s final by correctly spelling the word murraya, a type of tree.

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s David Williams and Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.

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