Maia Marshall is looking to become the first state spelling bee champion from Nevada to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
The 8th grader from Summerlin just graduated from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She is the first person to win both the state geography and spelling bees in the same year.
Marshall says she started studying for the spelling bee in 6th grade and got hooked.
"I just kind of did it for fun," she says, "and it just kind of snowballed."
Her winning word the state championship was "samurai." Marshall admits that was some Vegas luck drawing an easy final word. Now, she's hoping to take home the title in DC.
What makes Marshall's spelling prowess even more remarkable is that English isn't even her first language. She spoke Croatian until she was 3 years old.
"It does help when I study Slavic languages," she says. "I recognize some of the words."
When Marshall's not spelling, she likes playing tennis, reading, and watching football and basketball. She's also a big Oakland Raiders fan.
As for her future plans, she's starting high school at Bishop Gorman next year. Marshall wants to one day become a surgeon.
The E.W. Scripps Company is the parent company of KTNV. The Scripps National Spelling Bee starts on Sunday.