University of Georgia added a new trophy to its case.
On Friday, October 28, three University of Georgia students took victory in the Capital One College Bowl, a multi-week trivia competition hosted by Peyton Manning and Cooper Manning. Broadcast nationally on NBC, juniors Aidan Leahy, Elijah Odunade, and Layla Parsa beat reigning College Bowl champion Columbia University and will each receive $125,000 in scholarship wins for their success.
This victory is not only an achievement for their group, but also an opportunity to highlight the academic prowess of the University.
“I always wanted to go to a big school, and [by attending UGA], I really got into Athenian art and music,” said Leahy, a Double Dawg student from Suwanee, studying history and Portuguese and earning a master’s degree in public administration. “[College Bowl] is a great opportunity to draw attention to UGA.”
Sixteen colleges from across the country competed in this year’s College Bowl, the show’s second season. Students auditioned individually, and while Leahy and Odunade were members of the UGA Quiz Bowl, Parsa joined the team with no formal quiz bowl experience.
“Once we got there, Layla hit it off right away,” says Odunade, a political science major from Norcross. “Aidan and I have a lot of overlap in knowledge, and Layla is perfect for the team—she has aspects of STEM knowledge, and that’s not something we have a lot of background on.”
“And I remember the first day, I asked Aidan, ‘Since you guys know how it works and know some of these guys, how far are we going to go?’” adds Parsa, a minor in mechanical engineering and general business from Marietta. “He said, ‘We’re going all the way.'”
That belief, and quick reflexes on the buzzer, led the team through several rounds of competition. The team faced Southeast Conference rivals University of Florida during the preliminary qualifying round, emerged victorious and advanced to beat the University of Texas at Austin, Syracuse University, and then Columbia in the final.
While the team applied their strategy to win, they also enjoyed the camaraderie on the set. Teams from different schools get to talk between take on set, and everyone stays supportive throughout the process.
“It was a very positive environment. Everyone is there to support each other,” said Leahy, who also serves as team captain. “Some of the people in the competition were also people I knew before the show either through the national Quiz Bowl circuit or even high school quiz bowls.”
All students receive scholarships as a result of their participation, and UGA’s competitors say these funds help create the foundation for their future education and career success. Parsa plans to earn an MBA and then follow in her father’s footsteps, earning a PhD.
“I want to go to graduate school, and that can sometimes be an expensive endeavor. This scholarship money opens doors,” said Odunade. “After this experience, I knew I could do it, so I knew I would graduate school because of this show.”
“I totally agree,” Leahy added. “I come from a low-income family, with a single parent. I’m also very tired of money, so after I pay off my loan, I’ll keep the rest. But it helps provide much-needed security, and hopefully a good start to my career when I leave UGA.”
In addition to the memories made during the College Bowl experience, the team agreed that bringing another national championship trophy to the University of Georgia was exciting.
“I think you can call Athena the ‘Title City’ now,” said Odunade.
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