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Kayla from King of the Nerds Talks with Daily Dish Magazine

Kayla from King of the Nerds Season 2 is the last lady standing in Nerdvana.  The show comes to and end this week and we will see if this fellow Northwest native can take out the boys and claim the Thone of Games as her own! 

Kayla from King of the Nerds Season 2 Photo: Jeremy Freeman
Kayla from King of the Nerds Season 2
Photo: Jeremy Freeman

We have loved watching Kayla not just because she is also from Washington State, but she is a strong, athletic, and smart woman who is a great influence to young girls.  She has been kind and fair which has earned her a spot in the finals. 

Kayla from King of the Nerds Season 2 Photo: Trae Patton
Kayla from King of the Nerds Season 2
Photo: Trae Patton


Take a look at her answers to my daughters interview questions! 

1. How does it feel to be picked to be on King of the Nerds?

I got lucky when lightening stuck twice. I had tried to get on season 1 and was asked to come to LA for the last selection phase; however, I turned that down when I was offered a chance to spend the summer working at NASA Ames on some Mars exploration research. When they started casting for season 2 they contacted me and asked if I wanted to give it another go, I was thrilled! It is not every day that you have such a unique opportunity come up twice. I still had to start at the beginning and go through the same selection process as everyone else. Nevertheless, when I made it to the final 11, it felt like a long 2 year journey was finally culminating in one of the best adventures I could imagine. My aim for the show was to have fun and to enjoy the adventure that I was about to embark on.

2. Why do you think you will be “The King of the Nerds”?

Well, not only did I win the official NASA contest in which they looked for their greatest fan, but also I did turn down the chance for season 1 in order to WORK at NASA. That has to say something as to my qualifications for the title. I have long since been a nerd, I was the kid in Junior High and High school that was bullied and teased because I spent my nights looking at the stars and my summers going to space camps. College age was a dream, to be able to join college clubs in math and physics, travel to cons such as Dragon*Con and Geek Media Expo to meet people that love the same things I do – Star Trek and space exploration, Batman and Astronomy, Sci-fi and cosplay.
When it comes to the game – I love games. As a person that has loved sports my whole life, I know how to work as a team. I understand when to let the good of the team ahead of my own opinion. However, when it comes to the individual aspects of the show, I am very competitive. I do not give up and I do not back down without a fight.

I have the nerd credentials with my years of college education. I have the geek credentials with my level of obsession over my fandoms. And I have the skill set and determination to make it to the throne and claim the title.

3. What is your favorite part of Nerdvana?

In truth, I would have to say that the best part of Nerdvana was the people, both on and off the screen. While at Nerdvana, I was surrounded by nerds and people of the highest caliber who made the experience what it was for me. There was always something to learn from one of the nerds about a fandom that they enjoy more than I do, there were always reasons to laugh and enjoy the moment – even in the midst of battle and competition. The people that ran the show and kept things moving forward were a privilege to work with as well. Whether they were keeping us fed, keeping us safe, or throwing us into some really amazing challenges, they all loved their job, loved the show, and wanted to make sure that we nerds enjoyed the journey that we shared with them. Then there was Bobby and Curtis – Amazing Nerd Gents. Amazing people all around.
Nerdvana was a great place to live. I slept great in the room that I shared with the rest of the Titans, the rec room always had something fun going on, and the war room was always well stocked. In the end, I probably spent the majority of my free time in the Radio Shack room. It was almost like my own little “captain’s ready room” – I spent many hours building models and soldering together robotic kits that were there for us to play with.

4. What is your favorite cartoon?

Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s Batman Animated Series – Kevin Conroy will always be THE Batman for me.

5. What is your favorite food?

I cannot function without my green caffeine – Mt. Dew

6. What is your job? Do you like it? Why or why not?

I am currently trying to find a career level job within the aerospace and astronautics industries. If anyone wants to offer me a job, I am easy to find!

7. What are your hobbies?

I am not sure if I would consider my obsession to collect all things Batman a hobby, so let us just move right along to my love of astronomy and auto mechanics. Amateur Astronomy is one of the elements that got me started on the path I am on in life. I spend a lot of time with astronomy clubs in the various cities that I have lived. I love to present, to share, and to teach others how to use telescopes and to read the night sky.
I also love cars and trucks. I love to get under their hoods and get dirty working on them. My Grandpa LaFrance taught this hobby to me, it was one that we shared together for many years. Even though he has passed away, my love of cars and the desire to learn more has only grown. I spent years working on a 1930 Ford Model AA truck with my grandpa, now whenever I work on that truck today it serves as a way to honor his memory and feel close to him again.  While some people might think of this as a very non-nerdy hobby, I believe that the ability to work on a car and truck is a practical skill for someone that wants to work on Mars rovers and rockets. Besides, I will be that nerd that not only has a great batgirl cosplay, but also will have a matching Batmobile to go with it, that I built myself.

8. What is your favorite animal? Do you have pets?

I suppose I cannot answer with the Orca because that is actually a mammal… so I would have to go with a cat. I love cats and I have one as my roommate. She is a domestic long hair, 100% jet black, and her name is Janeway. Yes, after Captain Janeway from Star Trek Voyager!

9. Have you ever failed a test?

Yes, yes and yes. I am not sure if I should talk about how I had difficulties learning how to read, or maybe the fact that I failed Calc 1 two times, or the story of the first Quantum Mechanics test result. I have stories. Failing a class or a test is not the end of the world. It just means to try again. It does not mean that you are stupid, that you are not qualified to be called a nerd, or that you cannot succeed. Failing a test or a class does indicate that you need to tackle the problem from a different angle. Do not give up, do not give in, fight for what you want and try again.
I took Calc 1 three times before I passed that class. The difference the 3rd time was that I was at a new school and the professor took the time to notice how I learned. Dr. Stewart would spend many hours after class teaching that day’s lesson plan in a way that fit my learning style better. She completely changed my outlook on mathematics. I never gave up, I worked hard, spent extra hours at the math department getting help and I ended my time in college with a minor in math and earning a nearly perfect score in Linear Algebra (favorite math class ever)!
First test in Quantum Mechanics class, 4 of us in the class, all girls – highest score was a 46, I had a 38. That professor admitted that he had never before made 4 girls sad in one day. This test happened to be the first time that the new professor had even given a test in a class – ever. So after a nice chat with us students, he had a better understanding on how to make a test. The next tests in that class had us all with much higher grades! At the time, it was heart stopping, but now I can laugh about that horrible day in Quantum Mechanics class.
Never let a failure win. Always try again.

10. Can you speak a different language?

No, I have a list of ones that I would love to learn. Languages have not been a very large part of my academic focus. I suppose I will need to get Russian figured out soon with the current state of the US manned space program though.

11. What were you for Halloween last year?

I did a gender bend on Mr. Carradine’s Revenge of the Nerd character Louis Skolnick. At work, none of my co-workers knew about my mysterious absence during the summer. I called it an internship that had classified research due to patens, they bought the story. However, I did try to tease them and drop clues, such as a large purple bowl full of boxes of Nerd candy on my desk.
When Halloween came and we could dress up as whatever for the little kids who would come trick-or-treating at our desks, I decided to nerd out on my costume. Thus, I created Lois Skolnick and even made an Adams College ID badge.
Ironically, the Finance Department actually decorated their area to be the Omega Mu house from Revenge of the Nerds!!!! HA! So I ended up leaving my department –decorated as the book ‘Goodnight Moon’- for a while to hang out with the MU’s! It was a blast, and NO ONE knew!

12. Do you play any sports?

OMG YES! I love sports! Growing up I played soccer and tackle football. I tried almost every sport offered at school at least once. However, my love always has been for HOCKEY! I play hockey, I watch hockey, I earned my US referee certificate, I help teach skating and hockey. ANYTHING hockey related and I am all for it. I worked at a rink for 7 years in Nashville and learned how to drive a zamboni. At the Uni of North Dakota, I was a Student Equipment manager at the REA for the women’s hockey team. I LOVE HOCKEY!!!! Any level, any league, any country – I have a team that I follow!
Now I know that some people view sports as a point against your nerd cred. However, I have found some great ways to stay very nerdy in a physical sport such as men’s rec league hockey.

  • NASA and Klingon stickers on my goalie and player helmets
  • Custom jerseys including Starfleet Academy, Batman, Gotham Knights, and NASA. Written in Klingon on the paddle of my goalie stick is “Defend with Honor”
  • Pop off comments to refs or the other team about “It’s not like its rocket science! I should know!”
  • Spend 7 years working at the ice rink while attending full time college classes to be a rocket scientist – everyone will call you a nerd at the rink.

Let us also consider the fanatic level of sports fans. Seriously, there is no difference between going to a Predators NHL game dressed head to toe in team colors, face painted, and the whole nine yards verses going to a con dressed in a costume. Seriously, only the subject matter is different. The love and passion, the obsession to collect ever jersey, every puck, and display your teams colors is the same as nerds and our own love and passion, our obsession over our fandoms…. Just saying.

13. Who is your best friend in Nerdvana?

This is a tough Question. For the most part, I walked away with great friendships with the other nerds, so to call one of them out as a best is going to be hard. I am truly grateful to have formed friendships with some many epic individuals from my time on ‘King of the Nerds’ – it really is the greatest gift or take away that I have gained from my time there.
However, if I am forced to called out a nerd or two, I would have to say that out of the other girls, Nicole was the one I bonded with the most. We bonded over our sports and Burnout the car racing game. She is my Bad Ass Twin. However – Mary-Kate and I also bonded over a plan to take over NASA! Mwahahahaha
Out of the guys, I would never be able to choose between Xander and Brian. Brian and I would talk Trek for HOURS! And Xander and I would sing full renditions of Broadway musicals together over a 2 liter of Mt. Dew!
Ugh, that is such an evil question. It is like asking your parents if they have a favorite child. Even if they do they usually don’t tell you!

14. What advice do you have for young kids in school?

​Find your passion. No matter what it might be, find it, hold on to it, and follow it. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. If people tease you, forget about them, because before you know it you are out of school and you leave those people behind forever. Find the thing that motivates you and drives you to achieve your goals. When you have passion then you can work past hiccups in the road, you can find new ways to get what you want. When you follow your passion you will always have something to look forward to and will always be working towards something that makes you happy.
Following your passion might also take you out of your comfort zone but the growth you experience will be amazing. So be ready to say ‘Yes’ when you want to say ‘no’. Say ‘Goodbye’ when you want to say ‘hello’. And surround yourself with a good crew to help support you.
Follow your Dreams with passion.
Ad astra per aspera, simper exploro – On2Mars​

Catch the Season Finale this Thursday March 13 at 10/9C on TBS!   Stay connected with Kayla on Twitter




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Tracy Iseminger

Tracy is a busy mother to 2 girls, 3 dogs, 5 cats, and 17 chickens! Her adventures in cooking led her to create Daily Dish Magazine. She has a passion for pairing food with travel and wine. She is Marketing Director at Crimson Vine Marketing, Social Media Specialist at Cougar Digital Marketing, and a Dental Hygienist in her spare time... but her favorite thing to do is spend time with her family.

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