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Alex Trebek of Jeopardy
Alex Trebek of Jeopardy
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What is A Jeopardy National College Championship Contestant? Tulane Student Fiona Hellerman!

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Tulane chapter.

“They don’t call it the Harvard of the South for nothing!” 

And wiser words have never been spoken! We have some smart cookies at Tulane University! I was lucky enough to sit down with Fiona Hellerman, a Tulane student who participated in Jeopardy’s National College Championship. Read below to find out more about Fiona, how she got on the show, her experience filming in LA, and where to tune in TONIGHT, February 16th, to see her results in the first round! 

Fiona is a senior Tulane student from the Chicagoland area, double majoring in International Relations and Philosophy. Louisiana is part of Fiona’s family history and she felt drawn to Tulane after attending Jazz Fest and visiting several times with her family during high school. She’s certainly made the most of her time in New Orleans and at Tulane. Fiona is a DJ for WTUL Radio, President of the Tulane Organization for Global Affairs, Programming Chair for the Newcomb Prison Project, a member of the pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta, and the Academic Excellence chair for Tulane’s Tri Delta Sorority. After graduation, Fiona hopes to go to law school and become a human rights lawyer. But first stop–Jeopardy! 

As Fiona recounts, “Everybody knows Jeopardy. Growing up at my grandparents’ house, we’d be in the living room watching Jeopardy as a family, yelling out our answers from the couch. I’ve always loved Jeopardy. My nana has always been supportive, saying, ‘you always get the right answers! You should try out for Jeopardy sometime.’ When I worked on campus at the Fund Engagement Center, my co-workers and I would have Jeopardy on in the background. As I called out my answers–they said the same thing my nana did!” 

James Holzhauer, a Jeopardy celebrity renowned for his immense earnings from the show, also hails from the Chicagoland area and served as one of Fiona’s catalyst to apply, in addition to Ken Jennings and Amy Schneider. But Fiona wondered how she could even apply, and did some digging. The last contestant representing Tulane in College Jeopardy was in the mid-eighties! Though Tulane appearances in the National College Championship are few and far between, this did not stop Fiona from applying! Fiona stumbled upon the Jeopardy website during her Junior Year at Tulane and began the path to Jeopardy contestant-ship. 

Video via @jeopardy

Fiona recalls her experience taking the “Anytime College Test,” the first step in becoming a contestant, as one of chaos! “I popped some cookies into the oven and then sat down to take the quiz. At the halfway point, I smelled the cookies ready to be taken out–but I had not finished the quiz! I rushed through the rest of the quiz. My cookies were fine, but I thought my performance on the test was not!” Fiona dismissed her dreams of being on Jeopardy, until she got the call from Sony. 

Fiona began a long process of several auditions, tests, and screenings with other college students. With COVID, she worked closely with the Jeopardy team, still unsure if she would make it on as a contestant on the show. Finally, in late 2021, Fiona got to fly out to Los Angeles to film for the National College Championship. She made great friends with the other contestants. “It was a really fun group of people. We got to know each other. All 36 people were so interesting and fun to meet. Getting to play against people who I ended up getting close with was wonderful. Everyone did a great job!”

After keeping her immense achievement under wraps for months and months, Fiona can finally go public! And the strangest experience for Fiona after letting the world know about her Jeopardy appearance is being approached by strangers who recognize her from news coverage. Tulane University has covered Fiona’s appearance on Jeopardy extensively–so head on over after reading this article to read more. 

Video via @jeopardy

Fiona does not want to be the only Tulane contestant in this millennium! “This was the biggest bucket list item ever for me. If you’re interested in trying out, go to Jeopardy.com and take the “Anytime Test” to take your first step in becoming a contestant in the National College Championship!”

What is the next Jeopardy contestant from Tulane? Maybe YOU!

See Fiona compete against fellow college students senior Nam Vu of Georgetown University and sophomore Claire Jackson of Spelman College TONIGHT on ABC at 8PM ET. Can’t watch tonight? It will be available the next day on Hulu! Root for Fiona by watching tonight…and Roll Wave!

Hannah Ellis

Tulane '22

Tulane Senior majoring in Latin American Studies and Finance.