What is...Jeopardy!

University student competes on famous quiz show


When "Jeopardy!" aired Nov. 12, second-year Engineering student Amanda Ray gathered around a TV with her roommate and sorority sisters. Watching the show, though, was a little different for Ray than for her friends.

She was one of the competitors.

"It was nerve-racking to see myself on TV because I had no idea how I would look, sound or come across," Ray said.

Ray, whose family members are huge fans of the game show, took the "Jeopardy!" online qualifying test for the College Championship on a whim. Two months after the initial test, Ray received an e-mail inviting her to come to the in-person auditions in Raleigh, N.C. There, she took an additional written test, underwent a personality evaluation and played a mock game with other competitors.\nAfter the auditions in Raleigh, Ray waited another three months before finding out that she had been selected to be on "Jeopardy!".

Ray's roommate, second-year College student Marie Connor was there when Ray heard the good news this past September. Connor said the telephone rang and she could hear Ray exclaim that she was going to be on the quiz show.

"I was so excited for her," Connor said. "She's a very intelligent girl. I was really proud of her, and she definitely deserved it."

Connor said Ray mostly prepared with online quizzes and tried to not place too much emphasis on studying for the game show.

"I hadn't expected to get on the show," Ray said. "I tried to go into it thinking it's just a game and for fun."

In October Ray went to Sony Studios in Culver City, Calif. to tape the show. The College Championship consists of three rounds of play - five matches in the quarterfinals, three in the semifinals and two final matches.

All five quarterfinal matches were taped in one day, Ray explained, and her match was the last to be taped. The contestants were not allowed to watch the matches before their own, but instead waited in a room backstage with the other competitors, where Ray said they all became good friends.

When it was finally her turn to play, Ray faced off against two other students, Sam Spaulding from Yale University and Katie Singh from Northwestern University.

"The actual game went by in a flash," Ray said. "It was a very surreal experience."\nRay's friend, second-year Engineering student Mike Kumar, also watched the show on television when it aired in November.

"I was so excited, I wanted to do something special, so I invited a lot of people over to my place to watch the show," Kumar said.

The group of friends put everything else on hold, he said, and everyone was cheering for Ray, screaming at the television every time she buzzed in.

"It was really cool [to see someone you know on TV] because you know that person's background and what it took for them to get there," Kumar said. "When you cheer for a [sports] team you don't have a personal connection, but when it's a friend, it's a whole new experience."

About 10,000 students took the online test and only 15 were selected to compete in the College Championship, Ray said,

"I feel very lucky," Ray said. "It's probably one of the coolest things I have ever done. [It's] probably one of the coolest things I will ever do."

Although she came in second in her match and did not score high enough to advance to the next round, Ray said she has no regrets.

"It was an all-around positive experience," Ray said. "I didn't win, but I feel like I took away a lot more than the prize money"

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