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Alums Get in the Game (Shows)

Our alumni get out there and get in the game. Literally, in some cases.

Tensie Taylor
Tensie Taylor on the set of Wheel of Fortune

Tensie Taylor (’09 BA, Communication with a minor in Psychology) will appear on Wheel of Fortune on Thursday, October 9 (7:30 pm on ABC). Taylor, who today manages the Black Alumni Association at USC, is fulfilling a lifelong  ambition. She told her story to NC State’s alumni association in this article, and to the News and Observer in a recent interview.

Taylor worked for two years at NC State’s Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity before heading to school in L.A. in August 2012. She focused on her studies and earned a master’s of education in postsecondary administration from the University of Southern California in May. Meanwhile, she pursued her Wheel of Fortune dream with dogged determination: she applied 365 times in 2013.

Taylor foretold her future at a going-away party before she left her hometown of Louisburg, NC, for California in 2012, assuring her friends and family that one day they would see her compete. Everybody laughed then.

As  N&O reporter Lori Wiggins writes,

Taylor credits her tenacity to family, just as much as she does the bullies who tormented her physically and emotionally throughout school for being both petite and academically gifted – or, in the misguided words of some, “white on the inside and black on the outside, like an Oreo.”

Taylor’s already a winner with a message she’ll one day record in a book she will call “The Oreo Cookie that Didn’t Crumble.”

“I want to use my voice as a beacon of hope to other people: Don’t give up, be persistent and be patient,” she said. “Whatever dream you have, don’t ever give up; just don’t ever give up. I thank those people now.

“I refused to let them see me fail, or to let myself fail; I turned negative situations into positive ones. Now, look … I get the last laugh.”

Josh Hager
Josh Hager with Alex Trebek on Jeopardy

Another alum, Josh Hager (’11, MA, Public History), competed on Jeopardy last week. He reigned as champion for a full two hours, and walked away with $26,100 — enough to pay off his student loans — as he told NC State’s alumni association in this article.

When he’s not competing on national television, Hager works as a correspondence assistant at the State Archives of North Carolina. “I love the fact that I get to work with North Carolina history every day,” Hager told the alumni association. “It is common for me to work with 200-year-old documents every day. What really is most rewarding to me is helping people find what they are looking for.”