Former UT graduate student Jared Hall appeared in his fourth episode of the quiz-style game show “Jeopardy!” on Tuesday night as friends and co-workers gathered to cheer him on.
Hall graduated with a master’s degree in global policy studies from the LBJ School of Public Affairs in May 2013. He currently works as a researcher in UT’s International Office. Hall will appear in several more episodes this week and may return for a champion tournament match next year.
Hall said both his research and studies at the University have played a large part in his success on the show so far.
“I think the coursework that I had at the LBJ School exposed me to a wide range of different subjects in terms of current affairs, history and economics that helped to further broaden my horizons,” Hall said. “It exposed me to all sorts of different facts and bodies of knowledge that came in handy as I competed on the show.”
Hall’s journey began in March 2012, when he took his first online trivia test.
“I didn’t know what to expect going into it,” Hall said. “I really had no idea what it would be like.”
After passing two written trivia tests, Hall joined other prospective contestants from the region for an audition in New Orleans. In the months leading up to the audition, Hall said he prepared by routinely watching the show.
“I saw what types of questions were asked and worked on how I play the game,” Hall said. “I used a reference book, I used different trivia guides, I made flashcards and I read a lot of Wikipedia articles.”
In March 2013, Hall received a call from a contestant coordinator in Los Angeles and taped his first episode a few weeks later.
“I was pleasantly surprised by all of the people involved in the process: the contestant coordinators, the producers, Alex [Trebek] himself … They’re all just really great people and really friendly and want you to do well,” Hall said.
Liz Smith, who serves as assistant director of sponsored student programs in the International Office and Hall’s supervisor, said Hall excels in high-energy environments. Smith said Hall’s work often involves creative problem-solving.
“In our office, you have to think fast on your feet,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of problem-solving that’s involved – you have to react quickly, and I think that’s something [Hall] also had to do on ‘Jeopardy!.’”
Current graduate student Laura Struve worked with Hall in the International Office and said Hall gained an advantage from working with a diverse student body.
“I think his cultural competency is higher or more nuanced as a result of working with the International Office,” Struve said.
Hall said he had always liked “Jeopardy!,” but he only began watching the show regularly during college.
“It was just one of those things that had always been a goal of mine,” Hall said. “I was like, ‘Hey, I could be on “Jeopardy!.” I should give it a shot.’”