Patricia Jia (C '18) is an extroverted pop culture aficionado with an impeccable memory. She’s a world traveler, church group leader, Percy Jackson lover, and rap music expert who takes about 30,000 photos a year. She’s also a Penn senior who will appear on the Jeopardy! college championship this Friday at 7 p.m.  

Patricia grew up hungry for knowledge. How’d she know enough to compete on Jeopardy!? She explained that she read encyclopedias and the dictionary as a kid. “That’s such a Penn answer, right?”

In high school, Patricia took an online test two times for Jeopardy!’s teen tournament, and was called for an in–person exam and interview, but never got to be a contestant. 

“And I actually forgot about it. Like, I forgot it was a thing,” she said. “I still love the show but I watch it at home with my parents. And it was the last year so I was like … I’ll just do it for kicks.”

But then it happened. Patricia was, once again, called to Boston for the next round, and in December they asked her to be on the show.

Patricia knows a lot of trivia. Her Christian faith helped her tackle Bible–related questions. What’s more, she’s traveled a lot with her parents, and was able to soak up information from museums throughout Europe. That, combined with knowledge from her high school Advanced Placement classes and general love of learning, helped her to conquer the Jeopardy! screening process. Still, in preparation for her appearance on the show, Patricia had some work to do. 

“So stuff like presidents, I don’t care for the presidents. I had to memorize all of them. Right? Or like sports, Shakespeare, classical music. I had no idea what any of that stuff was." 

So Patricia and her roommates conducted practice rounds inside their suite in Harnwell. While one of her roomates pretended to be Alex Trebek, the others participated in mock contests with her so she could learn the information she needed.

Then, on March 10, Jeopardy! flew Patricia to Los Angeles for the competition. She stayed with her parents at the Hilton in Universal City. And at 7 a.m. on the March 12, she, along with the other contestants, hopped on a bus to Sony Studios, where the show is filmed. 

“And so we’re all on this bus, the producers are there. We ride an hour to the studio. And then you’re filling out these forms, you get your makeup done, you like do a practice round with the buzzers, see what the studio is like. And then they call you out three by three,” she explained.

There were 15 contestants and five quarter rounds preceding the semifinals and final round. The five winners from the quarter rounds, along with four other top–scorers were allowed to compete in the semifinals. Patricia was in the last group to film.  

“I didn’t do very well in my episode,” she admitted. “I just, like, froze on questions I usually would’ve gotten right. And it really sucks, honestly, to prepare yourself so much for something and work for it and not perform the way you wanted to.”

When Patricia first returned to Penn, she avoided discussing Jeopardy!. Eventually, she opened up to friends who ended up being supportive and kind. Now she’s made peace with her performance, and is grateful for the experience. 

“People don’t know me as, like, Patricia who’s good at Jeopardy. People know me as Patricia.”


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