Carnegie Mellon student Kermin Fleming won this year's "Jeopardy!" College Championship Tuesday. Fleming, a CIT junior, easily won all four of his appearances on the show to take home the $100,000 prize. His winnings could qualify him for a spot on "Jeopardy!"'s next Tournament of Champions.
Fleming said his success was due in part to his fondness for reading and his long participation in academic quiz tournaments. He has participated in quiz bowl competitions since elementary school and is currently the treasurer of Carnegie Mellon's College Bowl Organization. He was part of four Kentucky state championship teams and played in national tournaments.
"[Quiz bowl] is really popular throughout the south," said Fleming.
Fleming says his home state organizes quiz bowl leagues like any other sport, complete with a hall of fame. He expects to be nominated to the hall of fame after his "Jeopardy!" success.
When he can, Fleming enjoys reading both fiction and non-fiction books, but is particularly fond of classical literature. During breaks from school, he reads one or two books each week.
"I consider myself reasonably literate in literature and history," he said.
Fleming said playing on the show wasn't easy. While on "Jeopardy!," unlike in quiz bowl games, Fleming had to wait for host Alex Trebek to finish reading the question before he could answer. It can also be difficult to recall answers before other contestants ring in.
"Some of it is practice and some is the ability to remember things quickly," said Fleming.
Fleming was nervous and tired, having come down with bronchitis during the two days of filming. He played much of the game looking at the game board and the lights that told him he could ring in.
"It was intimidating to be in front of 2,000 people, but with all the lights you can hardly see them," he said.
What will Fleming do with his prize winnings? He will likely save most of it, possibly using it later in life for a down payment on a home.
"Who knows what the future holds? We'll see," he said of his spending plans.
When not studying, Fleming likes to go out on the weekend with friends and watch football. He has adopted the Pittsburgh Steelers as his home team since there aren't any pro football teams back home in Lexington, KY, and "no one likes the [Cincinnati] Bengals."
When at home for the summer, Fleming enjoys taking on home improvement projects with his father. This year, they built bookcases for his mother in their home's basement.
"I like power tools," he said.
Fleming currently works remotely for Lexmark International, Inc. as a computer engineering co-op. He studies electrical and computer engineering and computer science and might pursue a PhD in engineering. He also might want to teach after working in the private sector.
Fleming contributes much of his personal success to hard work and time management skills.
On 11/30/04 at 3:03 pm, Nancy Miller posted:
Students, including Kermin, gathered in the UC lobby to watch the finals, which aired Nov 22-23. Kermin was cheered by his many CMU fans with each correct answer and the Williams student who answered correctly a question about Andrew Carnegie was booed! Kermin's knowledge of literature and history was phenomenal, especially for a computer science and engineering major. A truly BRAVURA performance and a point of pride for Carnegie Mellon U.--NMiller, CMU parent
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