Professor giving a lecture to students in old main

It’s answer-and-question time

2009 alumna Liz Hutchens to appear Friday, Nov. 25, on ‘Jeopardy!’

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"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek with Wofford graduate Liz Hutchens

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The answer is: This Wofford College graduate is following in her boyfriend’s huge footsteps as a contestant on “Jeopardy!”.

The correct question – and don’t forget to phrase it in the form of a question – is: Who is Liz Hutchens?

That’s right! Liz Hutchens, a 2009 Wofford graduate with a degree in theatre, will appear this Friday, Nov. 25, on the popular game show with Alex Trebek. It was back in 2013 that Hutchens’ boyfriend, 2005 Wofford graduate Ben Ingram, had an eight-game run on “Jeopardy!” and in 2014 that he won the show’s “Tournament of Champions,” giving him a $250,000 prize to add to the more than $177,000 he earned during his regular games.

Hutchens, a registered nurse at Carolinas Healthcare System in Pineville, N.C., can’t reveal whether Friday is a one-and-done appearance or whether she wins and goes on to another appearance – or more. “All I can say is I hope everyone enjoys the episode. I sure did,” she says.

Ingram encouraged Hutchens to take the game show’s online test, the first part of the process to try out for the show, as soon as he appeared in 2013. He had credited Hutchens with urging him on to take the test and become a contestant. She took the online test last year, then was invited for an in-person audition in Atlanta. “Then in August, I received the call to go out (to Los Angeles) to film the show. Once I was invited, I had about 24 days to brush up on any trivia that might come up, and Ben helped quiz me a lot, especially on presidents,” she says.

“Ben was great. He wanted me to have a fun and memorable ‘Jeopardy!’ experience,” she says, adding that Ingram, her parents and several friends attended the taping. “It was fairly surreal being there as an audience member (when Ingram was on the show), and even more so as a contestant,” she says. “On the day you tape, you have to get up really early and then start rehearsing the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the show, such as walking up on stage, finding where you’ll be standing, having a few practice rounds with the buzzer and writing your name.” After that, it’s makeup, paperwork and waiting for the audience, she says, adding that she had the opportunity to watch “lots of amazing contestants” film before her turn. “It goes by very quickly, and it felt like a whirlwind.”

One might think that following her boyfriend’s very successful run and tournament win, Hutchens might have looked at this as a competition with Ingram. “Definitely not,” she says. “If anything, the feeling I got during the game was that you’re really in competition with yourself, the buzzer and the clues.”

Hutchens says she’s a “proud alum” of the Wofford Theatre Department, “and at the very least I projected my voice appropriately, and I hope I make my former professors and instructors proud.”

After she graduated, the Bismarck, N.D., native says theater took her to Minneapolis for a while. Then, she moved back to Spartanburg and then on toward Charlotte when she began pursuing her nursing career.

“Coming from a liberal arts education, I can safely say that I use all of the skills I learned in the theatre department and other classes, to help in the clinical setting,” says Hutchens, who met Ingram while they were at Wofford, but didn’t start dating him until after graduation. “You’d be surprised how much overlap there is between nursing and theater.”

Hutchens is continuing her education, working to complete her RN-BSN this year with plans to enroll in programs until she reaches a terminal degree in nursing.