Carnegie Mellon News Online Edition: February 5, 2002
Carnegie Mellon News Online Edition
In This Issue

SCS Gets $23 Million From NASA

Joel Smith Named Vice Provost for Computing Services

Stephen Cross Reappointed at SEI

Matt Cline, Victoria Massimino Earn CIT Staff Honors; Rhonda Moyer Garners Burritt Education Award

Economic Development Expert to Coordinate Efforts for Both Carnegie Mellon and Pitt

Mechanical Engineer Gets Federal Grant; His Snake Robot Will Assess Waste Sites

University Implements Measures to Increase Diversity

Carnegie Mellon Faculty and Researchers in the News

Senior Writing Major Earns Spot on "The Weakest Link"

Drama's Peter Frisch Joins CBS' "The Young and the Restless"

News Briefs
Cheering the Faculty Chairs

Christiano's Locker Retired
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Katie Tarara

Senior Writing Major Earns Spot on "The Weakest Link"

Being a trivia buff has finally paid off for senior professional writing major Katie Tarara. Her knowledge of, as she puts it, "useless information" earned her a spot as a contestant on the syndicated version of the television game show "The Weakest Link."

The show, a cross between "Jeopardy" and "Survivor," was taped at NBC Studios in Burbank, Calif., on Jan. 16.

Did she win the $75,000 grand prize? Was she voted off the show by her opponents as the weakest link?

Tarara won't say-she's sworn to secrecy by NBC-but she did say the program, a special college edition, will be broadcast in a few months on UPN. The syndicated version, hosted by George Gray, airs locally at 6 and 6:30 p.m. on Channel 19.

Tarara, who received free round-trip plane fare to Los Angeles and accommodations at the Universal Hilton near Universal Studios, qualified for the show at a local audition this past October at the Omni William Penn Hotel downtown. She saw the notice for the audition in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"I thought 'why not?'" she recalled. "They always say on the game shows that if you want to be a contestant and plan to be in the LA area you should call. Well, this was a tryout in Pittsburgh. I thought I could answer those questions.

"I guess I did well at the audition because about two weeks ago (early January) I got a call asking me to fly out to LA and be on the show. They asked me to bring four outfits for the show, including a shirt with the Carnegie Mellon name on it."

She got a sweatshirt bearing the Carnegie Mellon wordmark compliments of the University Advancement Division.

Tarara, who returned to Pittsburgh the day after the taping, said her experience on the show was a lot of fun, despite being a bit nervous.

"It was really cool because the contestants were all college students and we got along very well. We went out during the evenings. It wasn't too hard. The host George Gray was very nice off camera."

Tarara has completed her coursework and will continue to work as a student assistant in the Graduate Programs Office until graduation in May. After commencement she'll start her new job as a lay minister for the Coalition for Christian Outreach, a campus ministry organization based in Pittsburgh.

"I grew up as that kid who knows all the useless information," she said. "I was on the quiz team in high school and played Trivial Pursuit all the time. I just like learning things. I can still remember the first time I was able to beat my parents in Trivial Pursuit.

"It's like a lot of students at Carnegie Mellon," she added. "We're just sponges for information, especially pop culture. I read a lot and just take it all in. It got me through college."

And it may have helped her win thousands. Stay tuned.

Bruce Gerson

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