EXTRAORDINARY spells extraordinary, and when you look it up in the dictionary don’t be surprised if you see a picture of Zaila Vanguardista next to the entrance.
At age 14, Zaila recently became the first African American, and the first from Louisiana, to take home top honors at the 96th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Zaila correctly tackled “retain”, “ancistroid” and “predator” in the preliminary rounds.
After asking for clarification: “Does this word contain the English name Murray, which could be the name of a comedian?”, He secured the title by placing the seven letters of the word “murraya” (defined as “a genus of tropical Asia and Australian trees that have pinnate leaves and flowers with overlapping petals ”) in their correct order.
Winning is certainly a great achievement, but what makes Zaila’s feat even more remarkable is that she recently set her sights on spelling tournaments.
In 2019, he tied for 370th place in the Scripps competition. Not bad for her first time, but Zaila was determined to do better. Before long, the homeschooled teenager embarked on an intensive training regimen that included mentoring and specific study programs.
“For spelling, I usually try to write around 13,000 words (per day), and that usually takes around seven hours,” Zaila told Associated Press. “We don’t let it go too far overboard, of course. I have school and basketball to do. “
In fact, spelling is just one of the activities of this prodigy. In addition to her dictionary prowess, Zaila already has three basketball-related Guinness World Records under her belt, has co-starred in a television commercial with NBA basketball superstar Steph Curry, and has more than 77,000 followers on Instagram.
Even with her impressive list of interests, Zaila’s immersive approach to spelling definitely paid off. As the pictures of her enthusiastic reaction show, she was delighted with the victory.
“It felt really good to become a winner simply for the fact that I’ve been working on it for two years and then finally having it like the best possible result is really good,” Zaila said. Good morning america.
Although she has set her sights on a Harvard degree with possible career paths at NASA or the NBA, since earning her degree from Scripps, Zaila has been offered full college scholarships to three Louisiana universities. He also received a congratulatory greeting on Twitter from former President Barack Obama.
Three Guinness World Records and now the National Spelling Bee Champion! Congratulations Zaila, your hard work is paying off. We are all proud of you. https://t.co/UaYoRMGirZ
– Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 9, 2021
Zaila, who is steadily taking her rightful spot in the spotlight, sees being a positive role model as one of the most important aspects of her championship status.
“I hope that in a few years I will see many more African American women, and also men, doing well in the Scripps spelling bee,” Zaila told the AP. “You don’t really see a lot of African Americans doing well in spelling bee and that’s kind of sad because it’s a really good thing … and it’s kind of a door opener to be interested in education.”
And, not that we have to explain it to you, that’s just one of the many things that make this amazing teen absolutely PHENOMENAL.
(LOOK the winning moment below from PBS.)
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