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UAlbany Senior Makes TV Debut as "Millionaire" Contestant

January 25, 2010

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UAlbany senior Stephanie Ferreira, majoring in linguistics, was recently a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

UAlbany senior linguistics major Stephanie Ferreira was recently a contestant on the popular TV game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (Photo courtesy of Valleycrest Productions Ltd)

UAlbany senior Stephanie Ferreira kept a secret from friends, family and classmates for months. Finally, it came time for her to tell. The Long Island native won $10,000 as a contestant on the popular TV game show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

Her secret was revealed on Monday, when the taped show aired with Ferreira in the hot seat, fielding trivia questions from Millionaire host Meredith Vieira. Ferreira didn’t tell anyone about the impending appearance, except her boyfriend and parents who were in the show’s audience.

She had tried twice before to become a contestant on the show, taking tests both in person and online, last summer. In the fall, the third time was the charm. Two weeks before the taping, Ferreira got a phone call while in class. She called the number back and reached a producer at the show who said they were ready to schedule it.

“Of all the shows, that’s the show. I was so excited,” says Ferreira, a linguistics major and self-described trivia enthusiast. “But I tried to keep it under wraps as long as possible in case it didn’t go well.”

Fortunately, it did.

Last October, Ferreira traveled to New York City for the taping. On the train ride down, she lugged a “big fat” trivia book with her, hoping to soak up every last morsel of knowledge she could.

“Greek gods, authors, presidents … I didn’t even know what to study,” chuckles Ferreira.

She arrived at the New York City studios to begin a day of tours, paperwork, meetings with the show’s publicists and lawyers and practice questions. Finally, it was time for the show. Ferreira started out in the audience, even participated in an “Ask the Audience” lifeline for the first contestant.

Then, it was her turn. After a brief introduction and chat with Vieira, Ferreira was asked her first question: “In 1776, the name of our country was changed to the United States of America from the United “what” of America?”

Ferreira answered correctly with choice A – Colonies. Then, it was quickly onto the next question. Seven questions and two lifelines later, Ferreira was on a roll, until the $12,500 question: “A regular on MTV's “The Hills,” Brody Jenner is the son of a famous Olympian who won a gold medal for what sport?

Ferreira was confronted with the decision every contestant dreads -- is now the time to walk away? Having already won $10,000 – and with only 30 seconds to decide -- Ferreira did just that.

“It goes by so quickly. The first five questions took only seconds,” says Ferreira, who plans to pursue a master’s in elementary education at UAlbany after graduation. “And of course there’s some regret about use of lifelines.”

And while Ferreira didn’t become a millionaire, she is happy with how it all turned out. The game show stint will help Ferreira with a down payment on a house, she said, as well as pay for DNA testing for her two rescued mutts.

It also gave her a new way of saying goodbye.

“See you on TV,” she says with a smile and wave.

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Distinguished Professor James Acker, Collins Fellow
UAlbany Faculty

Nearly 30 years ago, James Acker left a thriving law practice in North Carolina to pursue a Ph.D. and a career in academia at the University at Albany.

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