A senior from the University of Michigan...

Surya Sabhapathy

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Well, uh, next year I'll be heading off to medical school, so in ten years I'll hopefully be all done with residency and just on my way to a real job.

How did you react when you were selected to be on the Jeopardy! College Championship?
Uh, when I got the call about being on the Jeopardy! College Championship, I nearly fell off the bed and then ran out to wake up my poor roommate from a nap and told her right away.

What do you hope to take from this experience, other than money?
Uh, from this experience, I'd like to take, y'know, just the great story of having been on Jeopardy!--it'll definitely be my fun fact for introductions for years to come--and the chance to be on one of my favorite television shows.

What's more difficult, the pressure of Jeopardy! or final exams?
I'd definitely have to say that cramming for finals is more difficult than the pressure of being on Jeopardy! At least this finishes much faster than two weeks of protracted misery.

Show your school spirit and tune in!

2010-A College Championship 2nd runner-up (semifinalist by wildcard): $26,600.

Hometown: Northville, Michigan.

First name pronounced like "sir-EE-ya".

Surya Sabhapathy Blog Entry 2
February 5, 2010

I arrived in California two days before we began taping, which meant that I had plenty of time to take in the sights. I did the tourist thing and took a bus tour of Hollywood in Los Angeles, and took in the sheer ridiculousness that is 75° weather in January.

I had no idea who the other contestants would be until the first day of taping. I met everyone else bright and early the lobby; on the bus ride to the studio, Maggie (who was shockingly energetic for 7:30 AM) briefed us on the rules. As soon as we got to the studio, we headed to the green room. We filled out paperwork and chatted with the producers while everyone got make-up done, then headed out to the stage to tape promos. It's harder than you think to remember lines, be super enthusiastic, and keep looking at the camera without getting distracted by all the people running around to set things up, all at the same time.

Finally, during the rehearsal game, we got our first chance to stand at the podiums and pick up the signaling buttons. There's a platform behind each podium, which they can raise and lower electronically to make everyone approximately the same height. This lets the camera get all three players in the same shot - and it also meant that I was a good 2/3 of a foot taller than usual. The game board looked a lot smaller than I’d expected, but I started to get comfortable with the setup as we practiced.

After going through a few rounds of rehearsal, we all headed back to the green room to wait for the real games to begin.

It seemed like I spent forever in the green room, waiting to be called. Since my quarterfinal match was one of the last games to be played, those of us who were left finished one movie and got most of the way through a second before my name was read. Dan, Nick, and I got our makeup touched up (this happens way more often than you might expect – they also came after us with brushes during every commercial break), and headed out to begin the game.

The game itself went by in a blur. I had a really hard time getting the hang of when to ring in – and it didn’t help that both of the guys were super fast on the buzzer. I started out Double Jeopardy! in the red, which was a little nerve-wracking. During the break before Double Jeopardy!, the producers gave me a quick pep talk, which did help. I was also glad to see an entire category about children’s literature on the board; I really like children’s books, and I think getting the first few questions in that category made me a lot more confident about ringing in.

By the time we got to Final Jeopardy!, I was surprised at how many questions I’d managed to pick up. However, I knew that I almost certainly wouldn’t be able to win the game. Instead, I decided to aim for a wild card spot with my wager – hopefully if I got it wrong, I’d still have enough to squeak by, but I figured getting it right would give me enough to put me in pretty good standing to move on to the semifinals.

Surya Sabhapathy Blog Entry 1
February 2, 2010

Hi everyone! I'm Surya Sabhapathy, a senior at the University of Michigan - go blue! I'm double majoring in Brain, Behavior, and Cognitive Science; and Evolutionary Anthropology (kind of a mouthful, I know). Next year, I'll be starting medical school here in Ann Arbor. Outside of class, I work in a cognitive neuroscience research lab, studying human attention (I'm pretty bad at paying attention myself, which is why I study it). I also volunteer at the VA Hospital, and play on Michigan's quiz bowl team, which is my usual outlet for making use of otherwise "useless" knowledge.

I decided to take the College Jeopardy! online test more or less on a whim this year. I'd taken it once before, during my freshman year. At the time, I'd got as far as an audition in Chicago, but never heard back, much to my dismay. This year, the questions moved a lot faster than I remembered, but I did my best to keep up with the shifts from history, to pop culture, to science. About a week and a half later, I received an email saying that I'd passed the online test, and would once again be auditioning in Chicago later that fall.

That Saturday, my mother and I woke up super early to drive down to Chicago (about a 4.5 hour drive). The audition was a lot of fun, and it seemed like everyone was having a great time. We took a written test, and then got up in groups of three to play a mock game and introduce ourselves. Quite a few of the others had really interesting stories to share - one person sold handmade Ira Glass puppets online, while someone else had been involved with a community radio station in Brazil. My part of the audition went by in a blur - but I do remember ringing in very sheepishly with “What are...things you blow?" for one question (it was asking for the link between bubbles, exams, and trumpets). Soon enough, the auditions were over, and they told us that the people who were chosen would be receiving a phone call sometime in mid-December.

December rolled around, and school started getting pretty busy with the end of the semester. For some reason, I'd fixated on "mid-December" as meaning no one would be getting phone calls until after the 15th. Much to my surprise, about a week in to December, I was sitting on my bed, reading. The phone rang; I didn't recognize the number, or the area code, so I picked it up to find out who it was. One of the producers, Maggie, had called. She rattled off an enormous list of information for me to confirm without stopping for breath. After I'd confirmed that I'm still an undergraduate student, wasn't a felon, etc., she finally let me know I'd been selected to compete! I nearly fell off the bed, but managed to stay on long enough to write down the rest of the details. My poor roommate was sleeping on the couch at the time, so I ran into the living room and woke her up to tell her the good news. I then proceeded to call my parents.

I've been preparing by going through past games on the J! archive; I've also rearranged my schedule a bit so I'm home in time to catch the show more often. During the auditions, they told us that buzzing in to answer a question on Jeopardy! is very different than how we do it in quiz bowl - you've got to wait until Alex has finished reading the question, and then hit the button several times, so I've been practicing by clicking my pen obnoxiously while watching.

I'm really excited to start taping the show - I can't wait to meet the other contestants, and get a chance to see what the set's really like. Wish me luck!

Surya appeared in the following 4 archived games:
#5855, aired 2010-02-12 Ryan Stoffers vs. Nick Yozamp vs. Surya Sabhapathy 2010-A College Championship final game 2.
#5854, aired 2010-02-11 Ryan Stoffers vs. Nick Yozamp vs. Surya Sabhapathy 2010-A College Championship final game 1.
#5852, aired 2010-02-09 Leah Anthony Libresco vs. Ashley Walker vs. Surya Sabhapathy 2010-A College Championship semifinal game 2.
#5849, aired 2010-02-04 Dan D'Addario vs. Surya Sabhapathy vs. Nick Yozamp 2010-A College Championship quarterfinal game 4.

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