The answer is … an academic achiever

The answer first: “This Georgia res­i­dent is as familiar with the set of ‘Jeop­ardy!’ as he is with the layout of the Star­ship Enter­prise (though he’s seen only one of them in real life).”

The cor­rect ques­tion: “Who is incoming freshman Brandon Welch?”

Welch, who enters North­eastern this fall, made his way into the ranks of “Jeop­ardy!” con­tes­tants thanks to the encour­age­ment of his high-​​school peers. “In my junior year, my AP U.S. his­tory class kept sug­gesting that, given my exten­sive knowl­edge of his­tory, I should audi­tion for ‘Jeop­ardy!’” he said. “Never thinking I would score well enough to audi­tion, I took the test on a whim.”

No one who knows Welch was sur­prised when he was selected for a live audi­tion, then as a con­tes­tant on the quiz show’s annual Teen Tour­na­ment. Since sixth grade, he’s been an active com­petitor on the Aca­d­emic Quiz Bowl cir­cuit, filling his mind with details both sig­nif­i­cant (like Amer­ican and world his­tory) and arcane (that’s where the USS Enter­prise comes in).

In his senior year, Welch trav­eled to Los Angeles for the “Jeop­ardy!” taping, and advanced through the Teen Tour­na­ment quar­ter­fi­nals, losing only when a tricky Final Jeop­ardy ques­tion got the better of him.

This fall, Welch will be on the oppo­site side of the country—Boston—facing tough class­room inquiries from North­eastern pro­fes­sors, whose ques­tioning likely won’t be accom­pa­nied by fancy Hol­ly­wood lighting or world-​​famous theme songs. He plans to study his­tory, the field that set him on the path to “Jeop­ardy!” in the first place.

“Choosing North­eastern was not difficult—the university’s aca­d­emic rigor, acclaimed co-​​op pro­gram, ideal loca­tion and vibrant stu­dent pop­u­la­tion were all weighted heavily in my deci­sion,” Welch said.

He hopes to become involved in the United Nations Asso­ci­a­tion and the Res­i­dent Stu­dent Asso­ci­a­tion as an under­grad­uate, then plans to attend law school after com­pleting his bachelor’s degree.

Welch’s family is almost as diverse as his knowl­edge of trivia. Born in Mass­a­chu­setts to a family of Irish, Indian and Jamaican descent, he moved five times in three years before set­tling in Grayson, Ga.

“My grand­mother was Indian and made roti when my mother was a child, and my great-​​grandmother was a copper-​​haired Irish woman,” explained Welch, who said the varied back­ground of his family has made him nat­u­rally curious about the world.

– by Matt Collette

Published On: August 9, 2011 | Tags: ,
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