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DHS alum Tomassi wins at Jeopardy!

Class of '96 Hatter takes home $20k

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DHS alum Tomassi wins at Jeopardy!

Jennifer Tomassi poses with host Alex Trebek after the show.

Jennifer Tomassi poses with host Alex Trebek after the show.

Contributed Photo

Jennifer Tomassi poses with host Alex Trebek after the show.

Contributed Photo

Contributed Photo

Jennifer Tomassi poses with host Alex Trebek after the show.

Meghan Edwards, News Editor

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In the category “DHS alumni’ for $500 — Jennifer Tomassi.” A) Who is an astrophysicist, B) Who is a “Jeopardy!” winner or C) Who is a superhero.

If you chose answer choice B, then consider yourself hypothetically $500 richer, because DHS class of 1996 member Jennifer Tomassi took home $20,401 following her one-day win on “America’s Favorite Quiz Show.”

Tomassi says that it’s always been a goal of hers to be on the show. “I loved the show for so long and my husband and I tried to watch it every night,” she said in a recent telephone interview from her home in Los Angeles.

To qualify to be a contestant on “Jeopardy!” Tomassi says that there is a mind test that everyone has to take, and she had been taking it for years, not even expecting to be able to actually get on the show.

Everyone on that show is so smart and so poised, I was so proud of myself for getting on the show at all”

— Jennifer Tomassi

“Everyone on that show is so smart and so poised,” Tomassi says. “I was so proud of myself for getting on the show at all.”

Tomassi’s season 34 episode was taped in November and aired January 26 and she described the whole experience as “surreal.”

“It was definitely weird. When you’re in the studio getting your makeup done, you’re aware that you’re going to be on TV,” she says.

Being in front of television cameras was just one of the many things she had to prepare for.

“I try not to be too hard on myself. It’s surreal watching yourself and I tried not to analyze myself; what I did right, what I did wrong, what I should have known,” Tomassi says.

She did her best to prepare for the competition itself beforehand. She worked on her general knowledge, taking special care in geography, which she claims is her worst subject. She took online quizzes and studied as best she could.

Then the show came and the nearly impossible happened: she won.

“It all just happened so quickly,” Tomassi says, “I wasn’t even sure of my final answer,  

I was already trying to do the math in my head and then I figured out that I could win.”

The excitement on her face was clear as soon as she realized that she would win.

Tomassi says, “I have no poker face; I was just blown away, surprised and pleased.”

Former DHS English teacher, principal and Tomassi’s aunt, Karen Rezendes, says that Tomassi’s ability to get on the show and then go on to win was not a surprise at all.

“Jenn has always been a learner and a reader;” Rezendes says. “She’s interested in and knowledgeable about so much in the world.”

Though Rezendes was not a faculty member at DHS when Tomassi attended as a student, she says that other teachers would tell her about the quality of Tomassi’s academics.

“Teachers described her as enthusiastic and passionate. I remember Rose Paonessa, one of Jennifer’s DHS English teachers, shared that she appreciated that Jennifer was an ‘independent thinker’,” Rezendes says.

English was Tomassi’s favorite subject at DHS. It persuaded her in college at University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, to minor in English. She also minored in art history, and majored in photography.

At DHS she also took an interest in many activities. She was on the student newspaper, she was a member of the color guard, even performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, she was also on the mock trial team.

But, Tomassi says her wide range of knowledge wasn’t even the most important aspect of her win. The first thing that anyone who strives to be on “Jeopardy!” needs to work on, she says, is thinking quickly and having faith in your answer.

She says, “You won’t get anywhere unless you have the confidence to buzz in.”

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About the Writer
Meghan Edwards, News Editor

My name is Meghan Edwards and I am the News Editor for the Hatters’ Herald year of 2017-2018. Last year, as a junior, I decided to take journalism to...

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DHS alum Tomassi wins at Jeopardy!