Gertrude Scocozza is marrying her fiance of nine years in November, an event certain to be the most significant of her adult life. But until then, her appearance as a contestant on Wheel Of Fortune occupies the top spot.
"It was awesome," she recalled recently from her desk at the corporate headquarters of Chelsea Senior Living in Fanwood, NJ, where she is office manager. "My goal was to do my best and enjoy every minute while I was there."
Scocozza, 29, a graduate of Kean University with a degree in communications, is like so many other fans of the show, playing along at home for years, sometimes yelling at the TV when a seemingly easy puzzle goes unsolved.
"It's not as easy when you're standing there," she said. "There's a lot going on. The stage crew is moving around. You have to pay attention to cues, applaud when they say and try to solve the puzzle. It moves along very fast."
Scocozza had first applied online to audition in 2008, but didn't hear a thing for over a year. Then in May of 2009, she got an email inviting her to an audition in New York.
"I was at the Westin ballroom with about 70 other contestants," she recalled. "Everyone played the game at least once for the producers. I think they picked me because I solved the puzzle and because I was obnoxiously loud, screaming and clapping."
During the second round, she played with three other people, simulating actual conditions on the show without TV cameras present. At the end, they were all told they'd be notified in two weeks if they were chosen.
"I never heard from them," she said, until nine months later in February, 2010. "I got a phone call out of the blue, asking whether I could be at a taping in Los Angeles on February 18th. Of course, the answer was yes."
She got to watch three shows tape before hers. When it was finally her turn, Vanna White introduced herself to all the contestants.
"She wished us good luck and told us to buy vowels."
Another vivid memory was the legendary wheel itself.
"It was sooo heavy."
Watch Gertrude spin the wheel on Thursday, June 3rd, 7:30pm on WABC, Channel 7. Under the rules of the show, she is not allowed to reveal how she did until after it airs. She will be watching with friends and family.
"It was definitely the experience of a lifetime," she recalls.