Carnegie Mellon Students Appear on Popular Game Shows
Jara Dorsey Advances to Jeopardy's College Championship Finals
Answer: This senior voice performance major was a finalist on the 2002 Jeopardy College Championship.
Question: Who is Jara Dorsey?
That's correct, Carnegie Mellon's Jara Dorsey, a head orientation counselor and member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, made it to the final round of the 2002 Jeopardy College Championship. Dorsey finished third overall in the tournament, which played out over two weeks on television. She won $10,000 for her performance.
For Dorsey, a Steubenville, Ohio, native, appearing on the popular television game show was a dream come true.
"Jeopardy has always been a big thing in my house," she said.
Growing up, she watched the program every night with her mother and aunt. She said people have always told her that she should audition for the show, so this year, she visited Jeopardy's Web site (www.jeopardy.com) and registered for the contestant search.
Last May, Dorsey joined about 100 other hopefuls at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, where the would-be contestants took a 50-question test. Once the tests were scored, the top 12 participants were selected to compete in a mock game, complete with buzzers and question board. After about a quarter of the game was completed, play was stopped and each contestant was interviewed.
After several months of waiting, Dorsey received a phone call in August inviting her to be one of the contestants on this year's college championship. The shows were taped this past October.
As a performer, Dorsey is accustomed to being in the spotlight. However, before the show she said she was more nervous than she thought she would be. Many of her friends attended the taping, which was held at The Ohio State University in nearby Columbus, Ohio. Her mother and aunt also attended, which made her very nervous.
"I didn't want to let them down," she said. "They're the ones I credit with getting me here."
As the competition began, Dorsey relied on her experience as captain of her high school's academic team to get her through the games. "I just wanted to get to the finals," she said.
The Jeopardy College Championship pitted 15 college students against each other in tournament style. Three students competed against each other in the initial five games. The winners advanced to the semi-final round and were joined by the four non-winners with the highest scores.
The winners of the three semi-final games played against each other in the finals. The competitor with the most money at the end of the two-game championship round was the Jeopardy College Champion.
Although she didn't win her initial game, Dorsey did finish with enough money to earn a wildcard spot in the semi-finals. She won that game and joined students from Ohio State and Texas A&M University in the final round.
Dorsey said that she didn't really know what to expect from the experience, but the pressure was more than she anticipated going into the championship. Even with a large group of family and friends cheering her on during the taping, there was still an overwhelming amount of hometown support for the student from Ohio State, which made a tough game even tougher to play.
Looking back on the competition, Dorsey has mixed emotions about the experience. "It was too, too stressful," she said. "It was a nice diversion and I can say that I did it, but I'm glad that it's over."
Her advice for aspiring Jeopardy contestants? "Play a lot of videogames so you can get in on the buzzer."
The Jeopardy College Tournament aired the weeks of November 11 and 18 on Pittsburgh's NBC affiliate, WPXI-TV.