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Reality Check

Reality CheckFour Tufts students and graduates are vying for big prizes on three reality television shows this year.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [11.30.07] This year, Tufts is making a big splash in the world of reality TV. According to some of the participants, neither they nor it will ever be the same.

Tufts musicology graduate student Nicole Morgan is a classically trained vocalist and self-described nerd. It's only fitting, then, that she should appear on the fourth season of the CW network's "Beauty and the Geek," in which teams of "geeky" guys and "hot" girls compete against each other and learn from each other's different backgrounds.

This season, however, the producers presented a twist by inserting a pair consisting of "geeky" girl-Morgan-and a "hot" guy, Los Angeles fitness buff Sam Horrigan. The pair are still in the running against one other couple;the finale on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. EST will determine the winners of the $250,000 prize.

No matter who wins, Morgan says being on the show has been a positive experience.

"The teams are trying to bring out the best in each other," she told the Marin Independent Journal, (Calif.), her hometown paper. "The point is to draw you out of your shell and expose you to a new world that you haven't experienced before."

To this end, Morgan says her "hot guy" partner on the show has taught her to be more laid-back, and she in turn has helped him have a better appreciation of studying. She says she also learned from the female "beauties" on the show. "In my one-on-one interactions, I found we had common experiences and feelings," Morgan told the Boston Herald.

Morgan, who previously attended Cal Tech and the University of Southern California doesn't mind being portrayed as a nerd-after all, she says, it's the truth.

"I spend five hours a day in the music library. I feel like life revolves around school," she told EW.com, Entertainment Weekly's website. "That's why I want to teach eventually. It's just the place to be for me." As she told the Journal, "I don't mind so much being categorized as a geek because I do pride myself on my intellect."

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Eric Aurigemma on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" with Meredith Vieira.

Elsewhere on the airwaves, Erik Aurigemma, a Tufts junior majoring in computer science, appeared on ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" on Nov. 30, winning $25,000. In 2002, Tufts graduate Jonathan Tsilimos won $64,000 facing off against former host Regis Philbin.

And there are more Tufts ties to the hit show, now in its sixth season. "Millionaire" is hosted by Tufts graduate Meredith Vieira, also co-host of NBC's "Today," and the show was adapted for American audiences by Tufts graduate and current NBC exec Ben Silverman.

Last, two Tufts graduates are featured on "Project Runway," which recently began its fourth season on the Bravo cable network. Two Tufts graduates are among the cast of models vying for coverage in ELLE magazine showing off the clothing line of the design competition's winner.

Christina Anderson-McDonald (A'04), who majored in art history and psychology at Tufts, was one of the top three finalists in Fitness magazine's 2003 "Face of Fitness" competition, winning a five-year modeling contract with Wilhemina Models. Marcia Mitchell (A'05), an economics major, has modeled for Saks Fifth Avenue, Chanel, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana.

For those who think reality TV is mere escapism, Morgan offers another perspective.

According to the Tufts graduate student, the lessons learned on "Beauty and the Geek" will carry on long after the finale. "The transformation continues after you get home and you start applying these things to your real life," she told Boston's WLVI-TV (Ch. 56). "You keep trying to change yourself."

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