Wheel of ForTUne: Towson University education major schools competition

By Kyle Hobstetter on April 8, 2020

Taking a break from the figure skating club team and student teaching, Erin Brockmeyer spins the wheel on national television

TU senior Erin Brockmeyer on the set of Wheel of Fortune
Towson University senior Erin Brockmeyer was a winning contestant on "Wheel of Fortune" on April 7. The captain of the Figure Skating Club Team will graduate this spring with a degree in early childhood education. 

Update: During her participation in an April 7 College Week episode of "Wheel of Fortune," Towson University senior Erin Brockmeyer beat contestants from Washington State University and Arkansas State University to advance to the final round.

She won $12,108 in the three-person competition by solving three puzzles. Before she participated in the final round, she told host Pat Sajak that her mother and TU graduate, Shirley Brockmeyer, was in the audience.

Learn more about Erin and Shirley Brockmeyer's "Wheel of Fortune" adventure below in the story as it originally appeared on April 3.

Last summer, Towson University senior Erin Brockmeyer didn’t really get a vacation and instead spent the entire stretch working in her hometown of Hampstead, Maryland.  

So when the “Wheel of Fortune’s” Wheelmobile drove into the Maryland State Fairgrounds, Brockmeyer and her mom—a super fan of the show—treated that Sunday in June as her vacation.

It was the best one-day vacation Brockmeyer could have asked for. It set the ball rolling for her to appear on national television as a contestant on the nationally-syndicated "Wheel of Fortune."

Brockmeyer’s episode, in which she dons a Towson University sweatshirt, is scheduled to air Tuesday, April 7. It will in the Baltimore area at 7:30 p.m. on Fox 45.

While flying across country for a chance to win fabulous prizes might be a highlight for some, the first thing Brockmeyer wanted to talk about was how her mom got to play in one of the mini-games in Timonium. 

“When they called Shirley Brockmeyer from Hampstead, I lost my marbles I was so excited for her,” Brockmeyer says. “I genuinely forgot about applying to be a contestant until one evening after dinner I checked my email and there was a message about being selected for an audition. I thought the email wasn’t real.

“My mother was extremely happy though I was disappointed she did not receive an email too.”

Brockmeyer went to the official audition in August at a downtown Baltimore hotel. With her purple polka dot folder holding her application, the college senior felt out of place, as she was among older contestant hopefuls who talked about their careers and families.

During the audition, she played several mini-games with a small wheel that the executives spun. After the mini-games, the potential contestants were given a paper with multiple words and phrases they had to fill in. 

It was here that Brockmeyer thought her adventure was over.

“I was so nervous with adrenaline I could not focus on that page,” Brockmeyer says. “Everyone was talking to each other about how they prepared for the audition and how they filled out the whole test.

“Meanwhile, I was standing there thinking this is where it ends for me. I thought ‘Well, Wheel, it’s been fun!’”

In a twist worthy of a game show, Brockmeyer got a second chance. The contestant coordinators felt they did not get a good opportunity to interact with her, so they invited her to play in more mini-games.

In hour four or six of the audition—she admits the long day made her lose count—she gave the audition coordinators the excitement they were looking for. She spun the imaginary wheel with all her might, called out letters loud and proud and clapped for her fellow contestants.

When she introduced herself to the stand-in host, she made sure she stood out. She introduced herself as the team captain for Towson University’s figure skating club team.

“When I said that there was an ‘Oooohhh' heard behind me,” Brockmeyer says. “The coordinators stopped writing and asked me to talk more about TU. I was the youngest person there that day, and the only one still in college. So I believe that made me standout somewhat.” 

After auditioning, things got back to normal for Brockmeyer. She returned to Towson University in August for her last two academic terms, and was ready to graduate in the spring with a degree in early childhood elementary education (ECED).

She was student teaching in different Baltimore County schools and enjoying time on the ice with other members of the club figure skating team. Brockmeyer had almost forgotten about the audition from the summer.

The Wheel of Fortune College Week group
Contestants on Wheel of Fortune's College Week, including TU's Erin Brockmeyer who is fifth from the left. 

Then she got the call. She was chosen to compete as part of the show’s College Week tapings in February. That’s when the anxiety started kicking in. Not because she was going to be on national television, but because she was just starting her last term and had to tell her professors she was going to miss class to compete on a game show.

“The ECED major is very strict about attendance and professionalism, and I was about to throw it away for a game show,” laughs Brockmeyer.

Little did she know, all the professors understood this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. From her cohort leader Amy Kit McDowell to the ECED chairperson Janese Daniels, all the faculty told her they would work it out.

Probably the best reaction came from professor Maria Mason, whose Wednesday night class was at the same time as Brockmeyer’s flight. In the first class of the term, Brockmeyer walked up and asked if she could miss the next week’s class.

“She looks at me and says, ‘Oh, you’re the ‘Wheel of Fortune' girl,’” Brockmeyer recalls. “She so wonderfully understood the situation and wished me luck. I was so thankful everyone was willing to help me with this and even my amazing mentor teacher was okay with missing a day. It truly built up my confidence and morale again.”

The coast was clear for Brockmeyer and her mom to head to California for the taping. When she got to Sony Studios a few things surprised her.

The stage was a lot smaller that it appeared on television, there were so many cameras and monitors she had to remember to look at and the platforms where the contestants stand move up and down.

But her favorite aspect of the show was that she got to represent TU. Before going to California, she picked out a TU sweatshirt that she could wear while playing. Since TU is a family tradition—both her parents are alumni—she was excited that she would get to leave a unique mark on the university.

“I was just not representing Erin, I was representing Towson University, a college I am proud to be a student at,” Brockmeyer says. “I am so grateful that TU has supported me in more ways than I could have hoped for during this situation.”      

While she won’t say how she did—she signed a release form that says she will not reveal the outcome of the show—she admits that all contestants walked away with some winnings.

The good news kept coming when she arrived home. After she graduates, she will be taking a position with Baltimore County Public Schools.

She feels she has truly hit the jackpot.

“My experience at Towson has been special, and a little off the beaten path,” Brockmeyer says. “I mean, how many figure skating teachers on "Wheel of Fortune" have graduated from TU?”