Bowdoin junior Cindy Cammarn first had to make it through rigorous try-outs to qualify as a contestant for Jeopardy!’s College Championships, held this spring. She then went on to win the first round of competition to make it to the semifinals.
Even though she didn’t win her semifinal game, Cammarn gushed with enthusiasm recently as she described her experience on the famous game show. “It was 100% positive,” she said. It doesn’t hurt that she walked away with $10,000.
(Although she scored higher than this on the show, Jeopardy!’ gives its college players $5,000 for making it to the college tournament and another $5,000 for making it to the semifinals. The final three contestants play for pots of $20,000, $50,000 and $100,000.)
“It was such an overall great experience,” Cammarn continued. “I have no regrets whatsoever, although obviously there were things I missed that I wish I could have known at the time. But I feel like I came up with a lot of answers on the spot.”
And what will she do with her winnings? “Here’s the boring answer: I’m going to save it for after college to see if I need it,” Cammarn answered. She did add that she might treat herself to a new computer and, possibly, a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses.
Cammarn flew to Los Angeles to compete on Jeopardy!’ in early April, and the games were broadcast on television mid-May. In total, 15 college students from across the country competed. Though she didn’t expect it, Cammarn said she ended up making new friends. “Everyone was so nice, so genuine and so excited to be there,” she noted. “It wasn’t cut-throat, people weren’t there to win money.” Her trivia bowls in high school were more competitive, she said.
As a nod to one of her English professors, Marilyn Reizbaum, who is James Joyce scholar, Cammarn said her proudest moment on Jeopardy!’ was coming up with the right question for an answer about Ulysses. Despite not ever having read James Joyce’s novel, Cammarn buzzed in first. “The answer was, ‘In this novel, which used to be banned in the United States, the characters of Steven Dedalus and Molly Bloom represent Telemachus and Penelope,” she recited.
As a theater minor, Cammarn said that she was also happy how she held it together on stage, despite “sweating bullets the entire time. … But once I watched the program I was pleased I didn’t look nervous.”