Doctoral alumnus takes a spin on ‘Wheel of Fortune’
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
It’s a chant that has become synonymous with relaxing at home and enjoying a bit of television. But Grand Canyon University doctoral alumnus Dr. Joseph Hattrick got to see what it’s like to spin the wheel and try to solve word puzzles on the popular game show.
Hattrick’s appearance on “Wheel of Fortune” is scheduled to be aired at 7 p.m. Friday on KTVK 3TV, but it was put in motion in March, shortly after he earned his GCU degree in Organizational Leadership in K-12 Education. He heard the WheelMobile, a bus that travels from city to city to find contestants, was in town and decided to try his luck even though he hardly ever watched the show.
“’I have no idea what this is, but it sounds fun,” he recalls thinking.
To his surprise, he glided through the first round of auditions with ease, even solving the puzzle, and was selected for the second round.
That’s when Hattrick started to question how much further he’d go.
“It was me and I would guess about 50 people in the room, and we were all sitting in conference-style chairs and it was similar to the first audition,” he said. “There would be a puzzle on the board and they would call a name. You would stand up and you’d shout a letter. If the letter was there, you get to do another letter.
“I stood up three times — I got the wrong letter each time,” he said. “I sat down and thought, ‘OK, my day’s over. That was terrible.’”
Nevertheless, he was one of 20 people chosen for the final audition, then was selected as a contestant.
Once on the show, Hattrick was surprised by how familiar the experience felt — thanks to his work in the doctoral program.
“Solving puzzles under pressure kind of mimicked the dissertation and defense,” Hattrick said. “It was a lot of pressure during the defense and you have to think on your feet while your committee is staring you down. So it was very similar knowing that although the audience only has a couple hundred people, they’re all staring you down.
“Being there was a lot of fun. It was also a lot of stress.”
The College of Doctoral Studies also provided him the opportunity to finish his degree, something he didn’t do in his previous doctoral program at another university.
“The part that encouraged me about Grand Canyon was the embedded dissertation process,” he said. “Doing residencies throughout the program, familiarizing yourself with what the dissertation will be early on, that was also attractive to me.”
Despite having to take occasional leaves of absence while transitioning into his new role as both principal and superintendent at Riverbend Prep in Laveen, the College of Doctoral Studies helped him achieve his goal.
“It was definitely a good choice,” Hattrick said. “I have goals to become adjunct or faculty (at GCU) at some point because they have a great reputation.”
As for his time on “Wheel of Fortune,” Hattrick hopes the GCU community finds enjoyment in seeing a recent graduate on the show.
“I would just encourage people to watch it to see a familiar face or a familiar story, and they can find out for themselves how I did,” He said.
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or firstname.lastname@example.org