Schwartzberg with famous Jeopardy host Alex Trebek. Photo provided by Schwartzberg

Ithaca, N.Y. — An Ithaca woman will appear on the classic game show “Jeopardy!” on Tuesday night.

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Jan Schwartzberg, who works for Taitem Engineering in downtown Ithaca, traveled to California to compete on the show in late February. The episode will air on the Fox affiliate from Syracuse WSYT at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

How did she do? Schwartzberg said in an interview on Monday that she’s sworn to secrecy about the results, but that the whole experience was “super fun.”

Schwartzberg with famous Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek. Photo provided by Schwartzberg

“Being in the set was a surreal experience,” Schwartzberg says, noting that she’s watched the show “on and off” for years. “It was really great.”

Schwartzberg attended McGill University and went to graduate school at Cornell University. She said she’s lived in Ithaca since 1979 and is a mother.

Her job title at Taitem Engineering, perhaps fittingly for her Jeopardy! prowess, is “Information Manager.” Schwartzberg jokes that she’s called the Information Manager because it’s the closest thing to a fitting job title for what she does — preparing grant proposals, technical writing and editing, and oversight for human resources and IT.

Schwartzberg says she began at Taitem when there were about 10 people at the company, and that it now has grown to employing close to 50 people. She said her background is in linguistics, not engineering.

About two years ago, Schwartzberg decided to take the online test for aspiring Jeopardy! contestants. She knew she had done well when she was called in for a live audition in New York City.

That was in the spring of 2013, and Schwartzberg had recently broken her arm. The surgery required metal plates, but she persevered.

It would be about two years before she heard from the show again. Then it was off to California.

“I really encourage people to sign up and take the online test: I had a blast and you get a trip to California paid for – even if you come in last,” she said.

Schwartzberg’s family will be gathering to watch the show as it airs live with her on Tuesday night. Taitem Engineering is also following its employee’s upcoming appearance on the show, and posted the following on its Facebook page recently:

“I’ll take…Terrific Taitem for $1000, Alex.”

“This long-term Taiter supports Taitem with her superb technical writing skills. She bikes to work, loves a good footie match with her sons, and will crush you if you’re not consistent with your commas.

“Who is Jan Schwartzberg?”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.