The J!Effect Alumni Stories
J!Alumni: Decades of the J!Effect
Career changes, charitable donations, school tuitions and new homes: These are just a few ways Jeopardy! has changed contestants' lives. Read updates from your favorites below.
Pictured: Maryanne and Michael
Following my Dreams post-Jeopardy!
Growing up, I had two dreams: going on Jeopardy! and becoming an urban planner. After winning the 2011 Teen Tournament during my senior year of high school, I turned my attention toward goal #2, putting my winnings toward studying geography at George Washington University. I went on to grad school at the University of Maryland, and I’m now living my other dream as a transportation planner in beautiful San Francisco, California! On top of that, after appearing on the show, Jeopardy! champion David Madden asked me to help him with a few history-based academic tournaments around the D.C. area. For eight years, I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of this project’s growth into an international, interdisciplinary organization that brings the love of trivia to students all around the world.
A College Reunion Worth Attending
My experience as a semifinalist on the inaugural Jeopardy! College Championship has impacted my life in more ways than I can articulate. First and foremost, it's given me a great story to tell for almost three decades. I spent 10 of those years as a full-time college professor. Hearing my account of how I "coulda-shoulda-woulda" been a finalist (and, who knows, perhaps the champion) consistently deepened my students' engagement in our learning dynamic, especially when I'd break out the PowerPoint Jeopardy! games I had created for them to play in class.
Jeopardy! Led to My First Job Out of College
During my interview segment (2007 College Championship), I mentioned that I was interested in Teach For America. Someone at TFA saw the episode and encouraged me to apply for a TFA recruitment position on my campus. Two years and two different TFA jobs later, I was finally eligible to apply to the teaching corps itself.
Finishing My Degree
My Jeopardy! winnings came at an opportune moment for finishing my PhD, as I had run out of funding and needed more time. One of my professors joked that I won the Trebek Dissertation Completion Fellowship. I defended my dissertation in December of 2009, a year after I taped my episodes. I graduated in 2010 and am now teaching at Michigan State University.
I'm a proud alumna!
I appeared on Jeopardy! way back in April 2002, well before the idea of wide-reaching social media. Being on Jeopardy! was a dream of mine reaching back to high school, so achieving my dream and being a one day winner was amazing. Fast forward to 2016, when I was invited to join the alumni group of former contestants on Facebook. I am so honored to be among such a fabulous group of fun, witty and kind people from all walks of life. Being a part of that group has truly been the best part of my Jeopardy! experience!
I had just received my $12,001 in winnings when my wife and I went to a Rotary convention in Sin
I had just received my $12,001 in winnings when my wife and I went to a Rotary convention in Singapore. I had always said that if I had "mad money," I would get three things: a Rolex watch, a tailor-made suit and Cuban cigars. When we got there, we spent an afternoon fulfilling that dream, buying the watch, getting measured for the suit and purchasing the smokes. I went up on the roof to light up and enjoy an adult beverage while my wife went to the room to rest. When I came back, she was on the bed crying. I asked what was wrong, saying that this had been one of the greatest days ever. She said, "I guess I need to tell you I'm pregnant!" Fortunately, I had about two-thirds of the money left, so we closed in our carport for a den and freed up the extra bedroom for baby #2, Jason, who became our Jeopardy! baby.
Attached is a picture of me with Jason, now 18 years old.
What's Your J!Effect Story?
No matter if your story is big or small, personal or shared, touching or just plain funny – we want to hear it! Submit Your Story: