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Northeastern student to compete on Jeopardy! college tournament

The answer is: A political science and communications studies combined major, with an affinity for U.S. history, she is Northeastern University’s first-ever participant on the Jeopardy! College Championship.

Who is Kate Laubscher?

On Tuesday night, Laubscher, SSH’18, will represent the Red and Black in the second quarterfinal of the 2016 tournament, in which college students showcase their general knowledge skills on the famous quiz show for a chance to win the $100,000 grand prize.

“It was a crazy experience,” Laubscher said. “They filmed the whole tournament over two days so it was a whirlwind. It’s a very short amount of time to prove yourself. But I’m really excited to have had the opportunity to represent Northeastern.”

The episode, which was filmed in January, will air Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. EST on CBS. Check your local listings if you aren’t in the EST zone.

Laubscher grew up watching Jeopardy! with her father Rick, whom she said has the skills to be a contestant on the show himself. She knew of the College Championship and took the online exam, a requirement for all prospective Jeopardy! contestants.

“I kept my expectations pretty low,” Laubscher acknowledged. “I just wanted to see how I would do. And I just kept moving on through the process.”

She scored well enough to be one of about 250 students selected for the next phase, which included traveling to New York City to take a written exam and playing a mock version of the game in front of three of the show’s producers.

When Laubscher said she found out she was going to be on the show, everything moved so quickly that she didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. And recognizing that it’s pretty difficult to study for Jeopardy!, she focused on topics that were easy to memorize, such as world capitals and the names of U.S. presidents.

“I don’t think my preparation was as rigorous as it could have been, but I’m not very good at cramming so it might not have helped,” she joked, adding, “My friends wanted to help me and kept ambushing me with questions.”

She also watched episodes of the show and practiced buzzing in to answer, using a pen she got at the live audition in New York City. “The buzzer is actually really difficult, just to get the timing right, and that can be frustrating,” Laubscher said.

And while she couldn’t reveal how well she performed in the tournament, which runs until Feb. 12, Laubscher encouraged the Northeastern community to watch the entire competition.

“It’s going to be a good tournament,” she said. “There are some very smart students.”