Southern Adventist University Student Competes on Jeopardy!


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A Southern Adventist University student was on tonight's episode of “Jeopardy! College Championship.” A junior biochemistry major, Hans von Walter won $17,000. He finished third. His two female competitors were from Boston University and Florida State University.

Southern notes that Hans is the first student to represent the university on the popular game show. A short clip on Facebook shows Southern students packed in the cafeteria cheering during the "Final Jeopardy!" segment.

Hans writes about how he got on the show:

I’ve always had a great interest in trivia; a few old teachers of mine like to remind me of my once insatiable appetite for asking questions. Jeopardy! would always be on in our household when my uncle was around, and naturally I took a liking to it. I still remember the very first clue I got right that stumped all three contestants. It had something to do with naming a breed of African dog famous for not having a bark; somewhere that week I’d read about the basenji dog. My love of trivia expanded into other areas later on, such as when I participated in National Geographic’s annual geography bee (winning state my 8th grade year) and, later, the AAA Travel High School Challenge. In addition to trivia-ing it up my whole life, I also spent my time playing the piano, cello, violin, trombone, and steel drum, as well as participating in a variety of mission trips to places like Ecuador and Belize. College came and was a whirlwind of activity in and of itself, and I found myself participating in College Bowl, orchestra, the Pre-Med Club, and SonRise, an annual campus-wide interactive Easter production. Now I sit here in my third year of college, having just taken the MCAT and looking forward to what is to come after college, particularly medical school.

The online test could not have come at a more inconvenient time: the season premiere of Lost, of course! Nevertheless, I forfeited those precious fifteen minutes of suspense for a precious fifteen minutes of questions.

. . .

A couple of months later, I got a double whammy of emails inviting me to both an adult audition in Miami and a college audition in Raleigh. Along with MCAT studies, a trip to Hawaii, and a performance at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the summer was shaping up to be pretty busy.

. . .

Fast-forward to Thursday, September 16. I was sitting in animal physiology lab, and the professor had just started to explain the very complicated procedure we were about to tackle. I felt a vibration in my jeans, took a look at my phone, and saw a very unfamiliar number staring back at me. I thought, could it be? I answered. "Hi, is this Hans?” "Yes.” "Hi, Hans, this is Maggie calling from Jeopardy!, how are you today?” I think it took about ten seconds before I came up with a coherent response. After a few minutes of eligibility questions, I was formally invited to participate in the College Championship! She asked if I was busy, and I said I was in lab, but that I didn’t care! She told me to go ahead and get back to lab, gather myself, and that I could call her back later.

. . .

My friends were immensely helpful in my preparation, texting me questions that they thought of and asking me whatever random things they would find. I looked at lists online of various explorers, authors, poets, mythology, anything that I could get my hands on. Every day I would also run on the treadmill promptly at 7:30 while I watched Jeopardy!; I figured if I can answer the clues huffing and gasping for air, I can certainly do it under the lights in a calm studio. Bring it on, Trebek!

Check out his get-to-know-the-contestant video here.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2761