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TAMS student tops competition in Jeopardy!

Monica Thieu with show host Alec TrebecMonica Thieu, a student in the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, won the $100,000 prize in the Jeopardy! College Championship on Feb. 14.

Thieu finished second in her quarterfinal round Feb. 7, but advanced to the semifinals as a wildcard since she had one of the five highest non-winning totals.

She won her semifinal round Feb. 8 when she was the only contestant to correctly answer the Final Jeopardy! question. (The answer? The Adventures of Tintin.)

Thieu, 18 — pictured at left with show host Alec Trebec — is the the youngest winner of the challenge. She competed against Sarah Bart, 22, of Goucher College, and Zack Terrill, 21, of Vanderbilt University, in the two-day tournament finale. She led the finals after the first day. Thieu was the only student from Texas competing in the tournament.


Thieu, of Dallas, is a second-year TAMS student. TAMS is a two-year residential program that allows exceptionally talented students to complete their freshman and sophomore years of college while receiving the equivalent of high school diplomas. Thieu will graduate from TAMS in May and then enroll in UNT or another university to complete a bachelor's degree.

In addition to having a winning Jeopardy! contestant, the TAMS program also has a student, Kurtis Carsch, competing in the 2012 Intel Science Talent Search competition March 8-13 in Washington, D.C. TAMS also had 14 semifinalists in the 2011 Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, more than any other school in the nation.

Thieu took a qualifying test for the Jeopardy! College Championship last spring, and was selected for a personal audition last summer. She was chosen from more than 12,000 applicants, and traveled to Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, Calif., in January for taping. She was not allowed to reveal that she won.

Thieu competed with 14 students from Harvard, Stanford, Duke and MIT, among other top-ranked universities.

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