Wash. U. student competes on ‘Jeopardy’

| Senior Scene Editor

Courtesy of Nishanth Uli

I’ll take remarkable Washington University students for $400.

Clue: Name a Wash. U. sophomore who recently competed on “Jeopardy.”

Answer: Who is Nishanth Uli?

Student Life: Congratulations again! How does one go about getting on “Jeopardy”?

Nishanth Uli: I took an online test last April, and in August they gave me an email that said, “We would like to have you audition in October.” They had a written test and a personality test. I went out of it thinking, “OK, that was a fun experience.” I never imagined much would come out of it. They gave me a call in mid-February: “Oh, you’re on ‘Jeopardy.’” I was like, “That’s crazy.”

SL: What was your schedule that week?

NU: Flew out Saturday to [Los Angeles]. Just got back at 4 a.m. The first two days, Saturday and Sunday, nothing really happened. I was there with a friend and family, so we just went around L.A. and toured. Taping is really only two days for the entire two weeks, so Monday and Tuesday were the taping days. On Wednesday, my flight was at 9 p.m. so we just went around Universal [Studios Hollywood] for a bit.

SL: What was it like being on the show?

NU: Really, really weird. Surreal moment, going up to the podium and thinking, “I’m going to be on ‘Jeopardy.’” Also meeting Alex Trebek—he is really funny, first of all, but kind of mean. Not like a mean-spirited way, but he likes to poke fun at everyone—sarcastic.

SL: Have you always been a fan of “Jeopardy”?

NU: Actually, yeah, it’s always been a family activity where we gather around the TV at 7-7:30 p.m. and watch “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy.” So I grew up with that, and I’ve always liked trivia. I did academic team in high school—sort of the same thing. It was leading up to it. Always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid.

SL: How did the tournament work?

NU: There were a bunch of us there. Fifteen of us total from all across the U.S.—MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], Georgetown [University], Georgia Tech [Georgia Institute of Technology], [University of] Tulsa. Schools all over the place.

There are quarterfinals, semifinals, finals. The top nine advance to the semifinals, and then the three winners go to the finals.

SL: How did you do in the tournament?

NU: I can’t say, actually.

SL: What was the most memorable part of being there?

NU: I would have to say meeting Alex Trebek. When he was announced to come out on stage, I was like, “Wow, this is actually Alex Trebek.”

SL: What are you involved in at Wash. U.?

NU: I’m in Beta Theta Pi, on the [ArtSci] Council, write occasionally for [Washington University Political Review] and do volunteer work. I’m [pre-medical-school] with a biology and history major with a French minor.

SL: How did you choose Wash. U.?

NU: Originally I was choosing between Northwestern [University] and [The] Ohio State [University]. Wash. U. waitlisted me, but while I was trying to make my decision, Wash. U. gave me a call like May 1 or 2. It was absolutely at the top of my list, so when they gave me a call, I was like, “OK, I don’t need to make a decision.” The academics were a huge role, probably the most important. Being pre-med, there are very few places as good as Wash. U. The atmosphere was very similar to Cleveland—very comforting and everyone was very welcoming. There was something there that I didn’t find at other schools. The first tour I took, for some reason, it just felt right.

SL: Did you always know what you wanted to major in?

NU: I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. That’s where the biology comes in. I’ve also loved history. I love reading history books, watching the History Channel before they started doing reality shows, reading Wikipedia. Kind of nerdy, but whatever. It’s been one of my passions for a long time.

SL: What about history struck you?

NU: It was originally more the stories, the wars, the battles, but as I became older, it became more of a critical thinking tool—a way to view the past through a lens. My views have sort of shifted over the years.

SL: Do you see history playing a role in you becoming a doctor?

NU: I feel like in the sciences, you don’t have to do any writing, sort of—not much communication that’s being taught. This happens. That happens. History gives me communication skills—writing skills that I think are equally as important when you’re trying to become a doctor.

SL: How has the community responded to your appearance on “Jeopardy?”

NU: They’re kind of going crazy. Everyone has been really supportive. Literally, as I was walking around today, I ran into people that were like, “I heard you were on ‘Jeopardy.’ Congrats!” It’s been really supportive, and I’m thankful for that.

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