Gwynne Ash '90

And the Answer Is…

By Donna Parker

When Final Jeopardy comes on, most of us are eating dinner and playing along with the game, but what if you were not on your living room sofa, but actually in the Culver City, California television studio where Jeopardy is videotaped?  Gwynne Ash, who earned her bachelor’s degree in English in 1990 from Trinity, tried out for the popular game show online, then competed regionally.  She also holds a master’s degree in English from Texas A&M that she received in 1993, and she went on to earn a doctorate in reading education in 2000 from the University of Georgia. Nine months later, the show’s producers came calling.

“They invited me to appear on the show in November of 2007.  There wasn’t much time to study, but I did read Prisoner of Trebekistan and Secrets of the Jeopardy Champions!”

Gwynne says that those books gave her insight on what to expect during the game show process.

“It’s pretty intimidating to walk in with all the other players who are lawyers, librarians, and graduate students.  There is a definite fear of making a fool of oneself!”

As it turns out, Gwynne had all the right questions and, more importantly, was quick on the draw.

“It’s really who gets to the buzzer first, as often all three people know the right question,” says Gwynne, who walked away a Jeopardy Champion with $24,400 after her two-day run on the show.”

“I returned to my regular life in Austin in November, but the shows didn’t air until February. It took me awhile to come down from the adrenaline and anxiety of being on the show.”

But, real life as a Texas State University—San Marcos professor beckoned and things got back to normal. 

“My job is to teach students who want to become teachers how to teach children how to read,” says this teacher who loves supporting children in becoming expert readers.

A former middle school teacher, Gwynne also tutors in San Marcos’s children’s shelters – an eye-opening experience and one in which she recently taught a 16-year-old, supposedly home-schooled all his life, to read above the primer level.   

Her spare moments are spent eating out and playing trivia with friends, although she says in the summer, you’ll find her at the pool reading a book – her favorite pastime.

She stays active with the Austin Alumni Chapter Board planning activities each month and she stays well-connected with several Trinity friends.  Gwynne believes her college years set the stage for her success as a professor.

“My professors transcended the usual classroom teaching.  Victoria Aarons, department of English, taught me how to write and how to think.  My honors thesis advisor, Frank Kersnowski, department of English, thoroughly prepared me for graduate school.  Scott Baird, department of English, whom I had for History of the English language, was instrumental in teaching me to love word origins.  That knowledge came in very handy when I was on Jeopardy, and every day in my job.”

“Trinity set the stage for me to grow in my own self-confidence, which helped me on the show, but more importantly helped determine my career path as a lifelong teacher.  I’ve never regretted that choice.”

“It’s an honor to see the success of my former middle school students, some of whom have become teachers themselves,” says Gwynne.

She’s one college professor who may not have all the answers, but certainly came up with the right questions.  

You may contact Gwynne at gwynneash@inthemuddle.com or gwynne@txstate.edu.