A freshman from the University of Pennsylvania...

Robbie Berg

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years, I hope to be doing perhaps research, or being a professor. I don't really know. I'm a freshman now, so I don't have my whole plan set out for me, but I'm feeling that maybe something in academia, something where I can teach and do research, would be a-a good combination of my interests.

How did you react when you were selected to be on the Jeopardy! College Championship?
When I found out that I was going to be in the College Championship, I was ecstatic. I literally jumped up and down all across the street outside the quad, and my friends were looking at me--they had no idea what was going on. So, it was very exciting--obviously, um, it wasn't something I was expecting. I got the call a little later than they said they were gonna call by, so I had pretty much written it out. So, it was a very exciting experience.

How did you prepare for the show?
To prepare for the College Championship, I did a lot of quizzes on a website called Sporcle, where they just quiz you on various information, and I asked all my friends who were taking different courses to give me information. All the kids in my hallway, uh, decided to quiz me on things that--classes they were taking, so it would sort of expand my base. But really, we'll just see what happens.

What would be your dream category?
A dream category for me, I feel, like, would be something that I would know that other people wouldn't. Like, CONTESTANTS ON SURVIVOR--that's my favorite show, so... something like that, that I would have specific information about, perhaps.

Show your school spirit and tune in!

2010-A College Championship quarterfinalist: $5,000.

Hometown: Davie, Florida.

Robbie Berg Blog Entry 2
February 4, 2010

I happened to be in the third quarterfinal game, which worked out perfectly. Just as we finished (500) Days of Summer in the Green Room, I was called to go on with Rebecca and James, my two fellow freshmen. I got to finish the movie and not have to be worrying about how it would end, so I felt initially happy, at least, with the timing. The game itself flew by -- I can barely remember the questions or categories. I did really well during Single Jeopardy!, but in Double Jeopardy! James and Rebecca were quicker with the buzzer, and I probably knew fewer questions, anyway. Sometimes I would buzz in at the same time in different questions, and sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn't, so it was hard to get feedback as to whether I should be ringing in earlier or later. A producer manually presses a button to unlock our signaling devices, so I guess some of my lack-of-answering could come down to poor luck with timing as opposed to poor reflexes. But it didn't really matter, because I didn't know Final Jeopardy!, so my whole game play basically hinged on that question. I knew I needed to bet basically everything to be in contention for a wild card, and I was just happy I put down something instead of leaving it blank. The first fifteen seconds of the theme song played and my mind was completely blank, but by the key change I thought of the only Western Hemisphere Summer Olympic City I knew -- Atlanta -- and wrote it down. I had actually studied Olympic cities and I'm sure I had seen Mexico City on the list, but I was thinking more recently and I really don't think I would have realized that Mexico City had such a high altitude anyway. So alas, when Alex commented that these Olympics took place long before we were born, I knew I was wrong. The pressure was finally off! I was actually really happy at that moment; no more worrying, no more studying -- I did the best I could and had a blast doing so. I was proud of James and Rebecca, and I couldn't wait to watch the rest of the games. In fact, I couldn't see my parents until after all the shows had taped, and they were ready to console me and tell me how great I was, blah blah blah, and I actually consoled them. I was having too much fun to care that much about the outcome of the show; it's just a show! And I met incredible people and I WAS ON JEOPARDY!!!! It was certainly a dream come true.

The whole experience was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (which is true, because I can't appear on Jeopardy! again... or until Alex retires, actually) and I loved every minute. I couldn't have been happier (I mean, I guess I could have won... but no regrets.) My parents and friends at the taping were wonderful, and my friends and family at home and school and elsewhere have been so supportive and excited for me. I've told a few trustworthy friends of my outcome, and knowing that they won't be disappointed watching the show hoping I'll pull out a victory. Now they can watch and just be excited that I'm there, which is how I feel. I've kept in touch with the other contestants, too; we have a vibrant Facebook group and lots of commonalities. What I liked most is that everyone wasn't just smart, but knowledgeable in so many subjects. I could talk movies, literature, science, music, sports, you name it, with any of the contestants. I wish them all the best of luck as they continue college and begin the adventure beyond, and I can't wait to see where life leads me next.

Robbie Berg Blog Entry 1
February 2, 2010

My name is Robbie Berg, and I am a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. I have not yet declared a major, but I'm thinking about majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Jazz Studies. I play jazz piano, so the Jazz Studies program seemed like my natural minor (music pun!), and chemistry interested me in high school, so we'll see where that leads. Extracurricularly, I play the piano in a jazz combo and as the accompanist for a theater group, Penn Singers, where I've found wonderful camaraderie and musical friendship. My background in all that is trivia is eclectic; ever since I was little, my mom instilled quizzing into my daily life -- she would ask me to close my eyes and say what I was wearing, name what I ate for dinner for the past week, or list contestants on the show Survivor. It has certainly helped my recall abilities, which I'm sure will come in handy for Jeopardy! And every year at my summer camp, Camp Coleman, I participate in the color war quiz bowl, where I can share my knowledge of former color war themes and other specialized camp-related knowledge.

The audition ran the same way as it did when I went a few months earlier for the Teen Tournament -- in fact, one of the contestant producers somewhat recognized me ("Did you ever audition before?"). The next fifty question test was about the same level of difficulty, I thought, but I realized that in this case the other students taking the test were certainly more knowledgeable. When the other hopefuls and I discussed our answers while our tests were graded, it seemed like the other kids knew as much as I did, but I really had no accurate measure of comparison, so it was hard to judge how my score ranked against the rest of them.

Preparing for Jeopardy! is an inexact science. What does one study on for a quiz about everything? I took many quizzes on sporcle.com in history and movies and literature and geography. I made lists of authors and artists and college mascots. I practiced my reaction time and watched episodes standing up holding a pen or a fake buzzer. I found archives with answers and questions from previous College Championships. I read last year's blogs. But I still don't know if I can fully be "prepared." I'm worried that I'll make a stupid mistake that my friends will rag on me for years, or I'll know all the answers and not ring in on time, or I'll play a great game and blow it on Final Jeopardy! But despite all my worries, I know no matter what it will be an awesome experience, and the support from my friends and family has been inspiring and comforting. The whole adventure will surely make for a thrilling story, and that's what life's all about, right? Do it for the story.

My whole travel experience was certainly a turbulent one. When I first arrived at the airport, I couldn't board the plane because it was overbooked and I didn't have a confirmed seat. I then waited in line for an hour-and-a-half to switch flights, but there were none that day. I fortunately got on a flight the following day and arrived the night before the taping, but the day of adjustment and relaxing I was supposed to have was spent in the air instead. But it was fine, because as soon as the following day's activities began, all was well. Simply walking on the set was super cool -- the screen, the podiums, the buzzers, the lights -- and the whole day was sort of a surreal blur. I was so happy to be there, despite all the travel worries, and I couldn't wait to play the game.

The other contestants were absolutely wonderful. Everyone was clearly very smart, but more importantly, everyone was so nice. No overt competitiveness, no loners, no mean comments, just 15 other excited, knowledgeable, fun college students (the 14 other contestants plus our awesome alternate). To me, this made the experience even better; I knew that, regardless of how well I did in the game, somebody worthy would win. But before we could play, there were forms to sign and makeup to be put on and promos to be shot and interviews to be had. All of our promos were the same... "Hi I'm (name) from (school or city). Watch me go for it all!!!" Ah, if only we all could "go for it all," whatever that really means.

We got to practice using the signaling button, which was the part I was most worried about. I thought I might not be able to get in, that I'd be too slow, or too fast, or just not good enough. But it seemed like everyone was getting a hang of it, and during the rehearsal game, I got some questions right and felt comfortable with the whole situation. It was still really weird, actually being on the set of Jeopardy!, getting ready to play the game. I was just ready to start for real so the pressure would be off.

Robbie appeared in the following archived game:
#5848, aired 2010-02-03 Robbie Berg vs. James Hill III vs. Rebecca Maxfield 2010-A College Championship quarterfinal game 3.

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