Allison Solomon, MA ESIA ’11, has always had a knack for trivia, and this August, Allison had her chance at the ultimate trivia competition, Jeopardy!
The application process for the famous game show is competitive to say the least; this past January, Allison joined over 100,000 hopefuls in the nationwide online Jeopardy! exam, her third time taking the test. From that wide pool of applicants, only about 3,000 were selected to audition, and this time, Allison was one of the lucky few. The auditions, consisting of a mock competition (complete with buzzers) and a personality evaluation, took place in June. Allison impressed the evaluators, and just a few weeks later got the exhilarating call that she would be flying out to Los Angeles for a shot at Jeopardy! glory.
We asked Allison a few questions about her Jeopardy! experience, and, while she can’t let us know the results of her Jeopardy! bid until the show airs on Thursday evening, it was great to hear about the experience first-hand!
Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do here in DC.
I’m a Florida native (still getting used to DC winters after 6 years) by way of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. I received my Master’s in International Affairs from the Elliott School and started working for Deloitte Consulting in 2010. I recently accepted a new position within Deloitte and will be managing our non-profit and pro bono portfolio in the Greater Washington area. No introduction is complete without mentioning my 6 year old tabby rescue, Otis, and 5 year old boxer dog, Bodie.
Have you always been a trivia master? What made you want to go out for Jeopardy!?
I’ve competed in so many trivia contests, it’s hard to remember them all: elementary school literature tournaments, geography bees, brain bowl and quiz bowls, and of course, the DC pub trivia scene. To me, Jeopardy! has always represented the Olympics of trivia — I actually felt a little adrift when it was all over since you really only get one shot at the show.
At what point in the application process did the possibility of appearing on the show begin to seem like a reality?
This was my third time taking the online national test, and I was just happy to be invited to audition. The DC area is especially competitive — when I tried out, there were people auditioning for their 3rd, 4th, even 9th time. I expected to be auditioning for years to come, so I was shocked when they called me to do a taping; in fact, I got the call around lunch that day and left work early because I was too excited.
Did you study for your Jeopardy! appearance?
Yes! Having a Master’s in International Affairs from GW means I’m really good at Geography and Current Events categories, but admittedly less skilled at Ballet, Opera, or Shakespeare. Besides reading as much reference material as I could, I used the app QuizUp to focus on my weak categories while I rode the bus to and from work.
What was the most exciting moment of the process? Were you nervous?
We had to arrive at the Sony studio at 8am for taping, but it was several hours later before we got to go on stage. I think that was the ‘holy crap’ moment for me — well, that and meeting Alex Trebek. I was definitely nervous. I am guilty of yelling at the contestants when I watch at home, but when it’s you at the podium with real money and Alex staring you down, it’s very nerve-wracking.
You are truly a “go-getter.” Do you have any advice for your fellow Colonials about pursuing their dreams?
That’s very generous! I think the phrase itself is enlightening – you ‘pursue’ your dreams, you don’t always get them. That’s what makes them so special and worth the effort.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Two controversial things:
1. Arlington isn’t so bad (looking at you, Kirsten Gillibrand); and,
2. I think, no matter what anyone says, Sunday brunch is the best meal all week.
Allison’s Jeopardy! show will be broadcast on Thursday at 7:30pm, EST. She plans on watching at a sports bar here in DC, which has happily agreed to air the game show for Allison and her friends. We’ll be playing along, yelling out responses, and answering the question: Who are the most impressive alumni of them all? The response, of course: What are GW alumni!