As told to Gabriel Lesser, writer for the Hillel International Writers Program.
“I’ve wanted to be on ‘Jeopardy!’ since I was a little kid. My parents were like, ‘You seem to know a lot of these answers, so you should try out. I did well enough on the test to get an audition for the ‘Jeopardy! National College Championship.’ And then from there, it was like a dream coming true.
“The experience was filled with emotion. I made it to the finals and met ‘Jeopardy!’ host and Jewish actress Mayim Bialik, which was awesome. As someone from an interfaith family who connects with spiritual teachings, hearing her perspective on faith was very meaningful.
“We spoke about how my faith is inspiring me to pursue a career in oncology and conduct cancer research. My mom is a cancer survivor. Being by her side as she battled cancer was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. It made me the person I am today. Faith has helped me realize that things happen for a reason, and knowing that God is guiding you with a plan can help you deal with stress.
“Personally, my faith has also helped me understand what to do when you’re in the national spotlight. I’m donating a portion of my prize money to food banks and putting the rest toward medical school. If you have the opportunity to impact others, you should use that opportunity to help people.” — Isaac Applebaum, Stanford University ’23