Northwestern student Yejun Kim this week will compete in the Jeopardy! National College Championship. A senior in the McCormick School of Engineering, she will appear at 7 p.m. CST Wednesday, Feb. 9.
Growing up in suburban Naperville, Kim watched Jeopardy! with her family. But she stopped watching when she got busy in high school and never imagined this scenario.
Related video: See Yejun Kim on ABC 7 Chicago
“It was a surreal experience,” she said. “I love Jeopardy! I love the show. But I never thought I’d get the chance to be on it.”
When she came to Northwestern, Kim started to watch again with her roommate. In November 2020, she took the qualifying test on a whim. After being asked back for two rounds of tests in early 2021, she got a call later in the year telling her she’d made it to College Jeopardy!
“I just paced around my room,” she said. “I was like, ‘No way!’ And then I knew I was going to have to study.”
Kim, who is involved in WNUR and the American Institute for Chemical Engineers, wanted to text her friends once she heard the news, but Jeopardy! rules required her to keep her participation secret from non-family members until close to the show’s airing. When studying for the show, she noted her strong suits were also her favorite categories: classical music and general science.
In taping the show, she said her favorite part was meeting people who worked on the set and contestants from other colleges. Now she follows her fellow contestants on social media.
“I'm really glad I had this experience,” she said. “Getting to meet the other students from all over the country just made it all so much fun.”
Watch Kim compete in the Jeopardy! National College Championship on ABC, episode 2 in quarterfinal game 4 at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9, with Mitch Macek of Villanova University and Joey Kornman of Brandeis University.