Promo: Teen Tournament! | JEOPARDY!
A Middle Georgia teen has been preparing for almost her entire life for the chance to step on the “Jeopardy!” stage.
Stephanie Pierson, a rising senior at Mount de Sales Academy, will compete on the popular trivia show Monday in its “Teen Tournament.”
“Whenever I was in the fifth grade, I started doing quiz bowl at Saint Joseph’s school,” Stephanie said. “So in elementary school, I started watching ‘Jeopardy!’ and I’ve tried out for Kid’s Week — I think in sixth grade — and I didn’t make it.”
Stephanie tried out for “Jeopardy!” again her freshman year of high school. She didn’t make the cut but decided to give it one more shot in 2018.
Early last year, Stephanie received the news that she would need to come to New Orleans for the in-person portion of the selection process. She had finally made it to preliminary testing.
“At the audition I felt so relaxed,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do it but this is my third time taking the test and I was just thinking, ‘Well, maybe I’ll get on.’”
Stephanie later found out she was selected to finally compete on the show.
‘She’s free to be herself.’
Stephanie’s mother, Kelli, has been there for every step of her daughter’s journey to “Jeopardy!”
“As a mom, I was able to go on this incredible journey with Stephanie,” Kelli said. “It is amazing to see your child’s dreams come true.”
Kelli said Stephanie has always had a special gift, but Mount de Sales played a big role in her personal growth.
“(It is) hands down the best diverse education available in the Middle Georgia area,” Kelli said. “She’s free to be herself and it has given her the courage to take risks and to take chances in life.”
Kelli said she is excited to see her daughter pursue her dreams as she prepares for her final year at Mount de Sales.
Stephanie wants to study history and Spanish in college, hopefully at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She said she fell in love with the campus on a tour there earlier this year.
After college, Stephanie plans to go into the Peace Corps or pursue the Fulbright program before returning to the U.S. to pursue a law degree.
“As a kid, I watched a lot of ‘Matlock’ with my grandma and my mom,” Stephanie said. “That first ignited my interest in law.”
How to watch her on ‘Jeopardy!’
Middle Georgia can watch Stephanie compete on “Jeopardy! Teen Tournament” at 7:30 p.m. Monday on CBS.
Filming for the episode took place December 2018, before James Holzhauer’s record-breaking run on the show.
Stephanie said she’s hopeful that viewership will stay higher for the “Teen Tournament,” as the popularity of the show has risen since Holzhauer’s streak.
Stephanie’s episode was recorded before beloved host Alex Trebek announced his battle with pancreatic cancer. She said the kids from “Teen Tournament” banded together after receiving word of his diagnosis and made him a “Jeopardy!”-style video, telling Trebek to get better soon.
“It was pretty heartbreaking for me because whenever anyone anytime meets Alex Trebek, he always makes his interactions so personal,” she said.
Stephanie said she had limited interaction with the host but he made her feel like family.
Kelli said her daughter’s appearance on “Jeopardy!” is a testament to her hard work and perseverance as she has never given up on making her dream of appearing on the show a reality.
“I always tell Stephanie that she’s living proof the great things do come out of Middle Georgia,” Kelli said. ”We have so much to offer here in our own community and she’s living proof of that.”