While most University students were trekking to class in the slush last month, one of their peers was in California, vying for the chance to win $100,000.

LSA junior Connie Shi was selected out of about 12,000 applicants to be a contestant in the Jeopardy! College Championship, airing weeknights starting tonight through Feb. 14. Shi is competing against 14 other undergraduates from schools across the nation, including Harvard university, Stanford university, Columbia university, Vanderbilt university and Duke university.

After she was selected to compete on the show, Shi was flown to California early last month to tape the show. The two-week special took two days to film, and Shi said the experience was much different than what she had anticipated.

“The studio was smaller than I imagined it to be and the game goes a lot faster than you think it goes,” Shi said. “When you’re standing in front of the game board there’s adrenaline and it feels like the whole show lasted five minutes but actually it was 30 minutes long.”

Shi admitted to being nervous, but said that the experience is one she will never forget, adding that the people around her made the experience especially memorable.

“The other contestants were really great and they were from schools all over the country, big schools (and) little schools,” Shi said. “They were all just really bright and really talented and really interesting people. Meeting (host) Alex Trebek was cool.”

When asked about any interesting stories from filming, Shi was elusive with the details.

“You’ll have to watch the show,” Shi said.

Besides pursuing her undergraduate degree at the University, Shi is also involved with the University’s Red Cross Club and the University of Michigan Undergraduate Research Journal. She also plays violin in the Michigan Pops Orchestra and volunteers at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Shi said she learned of the competition because she regularly watches the show, and decided to apply.

“I wanted to audition for it because it’s been one of my favorite shows for a long time,” Shi said. “I started watching it when I was in elementary school and I try to watch it whenever I can.”

Shi said she is a fan of the show because it encourages contestants and viewers to be knowledgeable about a variety of unrelated topics and fields of study.

“I think it has a really great message that it’s cool to know a lot about everything, or know a little about everything at least,” Shi said.

Maggie Speak, contestant producer for Jeopardy!, said the application process for the show has two components — an online exam and an in-person test and personality interview.

“All of the college students have to take a 50-question online test to qualify to be in the pool for the in-person interview,” Speak said. “Out of that, every year, we pick about two to three hundred (students) for in-person auditions … At the in-person auditions we are test-givers, we give another 50-question test … and then what we do is we have the players play a mock-version of Jeopardy, just like playing the game.”

The mock game allows the producers to get a sense of each potential contestant’s personality and to gauge how the contestant will perform on the actual show, according to Speak.

“We do a short personality interview to get to know them a little bit and that’s kind of fun for us too,” Speak said. “They get to talk about what their interests are, what they hope to do when they get out of school and what they would do if they won the $100,000.”

There are no specific qualifications for College Championship contestants, except that they must be full-time college undergraduates and can’t hold a previous bachelor’s degree, Speak said.

“You don’t have to be from an Ivy League school to become a winner on Jeopardy,” Speak said. “That’s just not the way it works.”

Speak said it’s contestants like Shi that make her job worthwhile.

“I think sometimes we all get a little downhearted about what our future looks like and then when you get to meet the kinds of kids that are on the College Championship for Jeopardy, they’re just really incredible,” Speak said. “They care about their future, they care about other people and they give me great hope for our future.”

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