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ND junior takes on field in ‘Jeopardy!’ College Championship

Sam Stryker | Sunday, November 7, 2010

This Notre Dame junior will be competing on the Jeopardy! College Championship.

Who is Olivia Colangelo?

Tonight Colangelo, a junior engineering major from McGlinn Hall, will appear on the popular television quiz show for its college competition.

Colangelo taped the show on Oct. 18 and 19 in Culver City, Calif. While taping is completed, she was not allowed to disclose the results of the competition.

“It was actually not as nerve-wracking as I expected,” Colangelo said. “They have people who make sure you are not nervous and are having fun on television. They talk to you about things that are not Jeopardy! It did not feel like you were taping for a large studio audience.”

Colangelo said her time spent as a student at Notre Dame had equipped her with the skills necessary for the experience of being on a televised game show.

“I think for me, Notre Dame helped prepare me with coming here as a freshman. I was the only person from my high school which made me talk to people I did not know,” she said. “I think this helped in the auditions and when I got there.”

She said one of the most rewarding aspects of her time on Jeopardy! was her fellow college-aged contestants.

“You are put in a room with 15 other people, and the producer commented on how we hit it off,” Colangelo said. “We are all Facebook friends and we plan on talking to each other when the show is on the air.”

Colangelo also said taping the show was exciting based on the location of the Jeopardy! set, which is located on the Sony Studio lot.

“For me, one of the neatest things of the experience was we were on a film studio lot. The set was beautiful. Also, we got to eat lunch at the Sony commissary,” she said. “Some of the people competing even saw Brad Pitt.”

Colangelo said one of the trickier aspects of participating on the show was preparing for the wide array of questions.

“I tried to prepare mostly by watching the shows everyday,” she said. “Since it tests such a broad range of knowledge, it is hard to study anything specific.”

Colangelo said she did study some specific material based on what subject areas she felt less comfortable with.

“I tried to brush up on stuff I wasn’t as knowledgeable about or I haven’t encountered as an engineer, such as the plots of Shakespeare,” she said.

Colangelo said participating on Jeopardy! has been a dream of hers for a long time.

She said she was on an email list to try out for different versions of the show, including the College Championship. She took a 10-minute online quiz in the spring, which initiated her audition process.

“They have an online test for all the shows they do,” Colangelo said. “I had known that I wanted to be on Jeopardy! for a while.”

Overall, Colangelo said despite the impressive cash prizes available, which range from $5,000 to $100,000 for the winner, the experience of being on a game show itself is what she truly cherishes.

“Going in, I thought about the money because $100,000 is a lot. But the first time I got on stage, I forgot about that because I love answering questions,” she said. “I realized the reason I originally wanted to be on was not the money, but the love of the concept of the show.”