Connie Shi: What is the Right Answer?

Marissa McClain/Daily
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BY VANESSA RYCHLINSKI
Senior Editorial Page Editor
Published March 20, 2012

LSA junior Connie Shi has all the answers.

The cellular and molecular biology major advanced to the semi-finals of the College Jeopardy! Championship after winning a quarter final that aired Feb. 2, finishing with $19,000 in winnings.

Shi was one of 12,000 undergraduates to apply to the college version of the popular television game show. She auditioned in New York City before being selected as one of 15 students who would compete on the show. Shi was flown to Culver City, Calif. for filming in January.

“You get to go with the purpose of representing your school,” Shi said. “It adds an even better dimension.”

Shi said the only strategy she employed for her stint on Jeopardy! was to “answer correctly and before others,” which is the same mindset she has for exams. Shi added that she went into the show with the goal of doing her best and enjoying herself in the process.

“The game is so unpredictable,” Shi said. “You really don’t know what’s going to happen in the moment, then there’s a commercial break.”

Shi’s win led her to compete in the semi-finals the day after the first round. The show aired a week later on Feb. 10.

"What most people don’t realize is that the filming is done all at once — so Ken Jennings (74-time Jeopardy! winner) taped each episode one after the other.”

Shi said though there was less pressure after she won the first round, she was less confident during the second round, in which she finished third.

Shi's life went back to normal once she returned to Ann Arbor with exams to study for and a contract of silence to uphold. Shi couldn’t tell anyone — outside of her parents, who were present in the audience — of her win.

“It was kind of fun, knowing something no one else knows,” Shi said.

Keeping academics first as always, Shi didn’t watch herself on television in early February because she was in class.

As an undergraduate researcher in the University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Shi was recently selected to be one of 17 recipients of the prestigious Thomas J. Bardos Science Education Award offered by the American Association for Cancer Research. She will head to Chicago at the end of the month to participate in the AACR annual conference.

Shi additionally volunteers at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Ann Arbor, is a violinist in the Michigan Pops orchestra and is a staff member of the Michigan Undergraduate Research Journal.

All in all, Shi said that her Jeopardy! experience was “plenty of excitement,” and she offered advice to University students.

“As students, it is important to be open to opportunities available to you,” Shi said. “If you take the time to find the classes that are interesting to you, you never know when the opportunity may come about to make use of it.”