Student scores second on quiz show

By Senah Yeboah-Sampong

For many students, finding the money to pay tuition and living costs is a persistent challenge. Applying for scholarships is a common strategy, but one student was recently given a more creative option.

Sophomore journalism major Karen Herrejon placed second in the annual Hispanic College Quiz finals July 28, winning a $2,500 scholarship.

The competition will air on NBC 5 at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 15  as part of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Herrejon said she will be awarded the scholarship in late October.

“For this contest, I didn’t actually write a paper,” Herrejon said. “I actually had to study, and I didn’t mind it because I thought it was a good experience.”

Each round of the competition consisted of multiple-choice questions with point values awarded on the basis of difficulty. Topics ranged from art exhibitions to

popular literature.

The contest was sponsored by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and recorded at Central City Productions, 212 E. Ohio St.

The quiz show was conducted tournament style, with three contestants participating in the first tier and the winner of each tier progressing to the final one, according to HACU news briefs.

Two weeks before the contest, Daniel Aranda, director of Latino Cultural Affairs at Columbia, approached Herrejon to gauge her interest in entering the contest after Columbia’s original contestant could no longer participate.

“Everyone else had a month beforehand to study, and they already knew what was going on,” Herrejon said. “So the person that backed out [left me with] 12 days before the quiz.”

Herrejon said she worried about being ready in time and studied three to four hours a day.

“I would read up on how to lower stress, how to train your memory and I would eat stuff that would help your memory and your brain,” she said. “I was exercising too, because I didn’t want to just study and exhaust myself.”

The eight other contestants were from schools such as Adams State University in Alamosa, Colo., Victoria College in Victoria, Texas, and Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

Jennifer Jackson, the show’s executive producer, said making the students comfortable was vital to their performance in the studio.

“Oftentimes, a lot of images that we see of people, Latinos and African-Americans in particular, are not positive images,” Jackson said.

She called the quiz an opportunity to challenge the media’s depiction of people of color.

Herrejon beat out competitors Michael Sandoval of Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Isaac Valdez of the University of Houston in the first round, advancing her to the next stage of competition.

The final round pit Herrejon against Ivan Ramirez of Victoria College and Carlos Alvarado of Los Angles Harbor College. Herrejon briefly led the competition by 275 points, but Alvarado ultimately moved into first place. After the winner was announced the contestants had a chance to bond.

“After the competition, we got to hang out, went to the mall [and] went to Navy Pier to see fireworks,” Herrejon said. “We got to take a limo back to the [hotel], and one of the girls let me spend the night in her room.”

She said she has kept in contact with her new friends, who are as far away as Texas and California. Along with the knowledge acquired through her studies, her newfound friendships made the experience worthwhile.

“It was all about Hispanics in the U.S., [and] I learned a lot about the Chicano movement and other aspects [of] the culture that I never knew,” she said. “It was a good deal.”