PROFILE: UC Student Competes On Hollywood Squares

 

Denise Hite is getting a shot at Hollywood, all because she's a student at the University of Cincinnati. The 21-year-old senior psychology major was one of the students selected in a nationwide search to compete in the Hollywood Squares College Tournament. Hite is flying out to Hollywood Jan. 16. The college competition will be taped Jan. 18-19.

Hite says it was a surprise to find out she would be bantering with Hollywood celebrities to compete for cash and prizes while promoting her university. The Hollywood Squares scouts were auditioning for contestants on campus last September. Hite says she and a friend just happened to be walking by the Event Pavilion, where the auditions were being held, when they were invited to join the first round of screenings. "They gave us a questionnaire that had true/false questions. Once I finished that, they told me I had made it through the first cut, so they took my picture and then asked me some more questions in a mock run of the show, playing against another student."

Fern McMillan, Hollywood Squares supervising contestant coordinator, says the auditions were held at 12 colleges and universities in the show's major markets: University of Cincinnati, The Ohio State University, University of South Florida, University of Miami (Florida), New York University, Northwestern University, University of Pennsylvania, University of San Francisco, University of Washington, Southern Methodist University and Emerson College. University of Southern California (USC) and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) will also have students in the college tournament.

McMillan says four finalists were considered from each institution, with the final contestant selected after considering how they did on the testing, as well as their major and personality.

Hite says she was told that if she didn't hear any news from Hollywood Squares by Thanksgiving, she'd be out of the running. But then the call came in late November. "I was so shocked. First, they called my home number, and then, they left a message on my cell phone. I had to call them back!"

Denise Hite

Denise Hite

Now, she's packing her bags for Hollywood and her boyfriend, Pat Douglas, is making his first plane flight ever, to travel to Los Angeles to be her cheering section. "On Friday, (Jan. 17) they have a practice day, when we can work on our strategy and get to know some of the other contestants. The show will be taped on Saturday and Sunday - they do an entire tournament in two days."

Hite is looking forward to traveling to Hollywood to represent UC and the city of Cincinnati, where she grew up. She graduated from Mason High School in 1999. Her mom and dad, Beverly and Rich Hite, still live in Mason. Hite says that over the holidays, her dad helped her prepare for the tournament.
 "My dad has been coaching me and helping me devise different strategies. My parents actually got me a tic-tac-toe board for Christmas, so I could practice. They're so excited for me."

The Hollywood Squares College Tournament will air over a two-week period during Feb. 17-21 and Feb. 24-28.

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