Britt Billmaier, '07, MA '08, is fresh off a stint on ABC's The Bachelor. She flipped for Brad Womack -- but in a tumbling kind of way. The former member of Stanford's gymnastics team showed the famous single guy a couple of flip-flops while they were on a date. Here she talks about Stanford and her post-Bachelor plans. Excerpts:
How did your Stanford degree prepare you for The Bachelor?
In general, just having the perspective you gain at Stanford kind of teaches you to sit back and view everything in a laid-back way -- to take everything that's coming at you and realize you're just being put in a giant social experiment. I felt like I came away unscathed.
What was your major at Stanford?
I graduated undergrad with communications, and then I did the co-term master's in the media studies program in '08. You can go either digital media or journalism. My degree is in digital media.
Are you going to become a journalist?
Right now I'm working for Groupon. After I went to grad school at Stanford, I attended the California Culinary Academy. It was a blast. So after I graduated from there, I started working at the San Francisco Chronicle food and wine section. It was a fun way to combine my background and my passions. I had to leave that job to go on the show. I've since started working at Groupon [in San Francisco]. My job there is to get fine-dining restaurants on board with the Groupon program.
Is your reality TV career over?
I think I'm done with reality TV for now. I'm ready for a nice big dose of the real world.
When did you film the show?
It aired from January through March. The finale was [Monday] night. I was not on the finale. I was on last week's episode. Last week's episode was the "Women Tell All." That was filmed a few weeks ago. The actual show part of it, I'm not allowed to disclose when it was filmed. [Editor's note: The March 21 issue of Us Weekly says Bachelor Womack got engaged four months ago.]
What made you want to be on it?
One of my closest friends nominated me online without my knowledge. One day I received a call from ABC, asking me to come down to L.A. for casting weekend. I was so confused, as you can imagine. I thought it was a prank. After a few minutes of the producer convincing me it was not a prank, I decided, "Why not? When else in my life am I going to decide to do something off-the-wall and crazy like this and experience something new and different?"
Was the friend who nominated you a Stanford friend?
Her name is Lindsey Libed. She was also '07. We weren't super close friends at Stanford, but since then, we both live in the City, and we've become incredibly close. I'm pretty sure the reason she did it was I'm constantly her third wheel on dates! She's very popular, and I always seem to be tagging along!
Was your family open to your appearance on the show?
I think they had mixed feelings about it. First and foremost, they were really concerned about my feelings getting hurt and any unfavorable portrayals that might happen in the editing process. They support any decisions that I make. Once I decided to go for it, they were completely on board.
Any Stanford connections on the show?
I lived in the same freshman dorm as J.J. Garton ['07]. Oddly enough, Madison from the show is J.J.'s cousin. We discovered that a few weeks into filming.
Was Brad Womack impressed you went to Stanford?
He was very impressed. Actually, it ended up being a topic of conversation that made us realize how different we were. Brad is a very successful businessman, but if there's one thing he's not as confident about, it's his educational background because he never finished college. When that topic came up, he definitely felt we were very different in that aspect.
So did you wear Stanford clothes during filming?
I tried to represent Stanford wearing different shirts, but if you had them on, you had to cover them up. I had a Stanford necklace on the whole time, and nobody caught that. I was on the gymnastics team when I was at Stanford. When I first found out I made the team, my parents had a special Stanford "S" made for me with a gymnast on it.
Were you a gymnast all four years of your undergrad time at Stanford?
I was on the team for the first two years. I had a series of major shoulder surgeries. Every time I would come close to being 100 percent recovered, I'd injure it again. By the time junior year came around, I became team manager.
Did the gymnastics come in handy on the show?
It did. Unfortunately, there's such a limited amount of time. A lot of things that I was excited to see on TV didn't make the cut. One of the dates we went on was a stunt movie-making kind of date. I was able to use some of my old gymnastics skills on that. I just did a few flips here and there. I was surprised I was still able to do it, actually. Before I was on the show, ABC comes out to do a background shot on you. [Women's gymnastics coach] Kristen [Smyth] allowed them to film in the Stanford gym. They got a bunch of video of me on the trampoline and on the balance beam and doing some tumbling.
Do you have a new boyfriend?
I am totally single.
Would you ever go back on the show?
I'm really glad I did it this time. It was incredibly emotionally taxing. I'm not sure I can do anything like it again.
Because you liked Brad Womack?
I wouldn't say that we ever had much of a romantic connection. I definitely respect him as a person, and I think he's a nice guy. I think when I left I was much more sad to leave the girls because I developed some strong friendships.
Who were your closest girlfriends on the show?
I would say Ashley Hebert was one of my closest friends, who's now the new "Bachelorette." Meghan Merritt. I'm really close with Chantal O'Brien, the runner-up on the finale. She's from my hometown in the Seattle area.
Do you think Brad Womack made the right choice?
I think Emily is an incredibly kind, beautiful and caring person. Brad is definitely a lucky guy. Based on what I know about Brad and Emily, I think they are a good match, and I wish them a lifetime of happiness together. Chantal (the runner-up) is currently incredibly happy in a new relationship, so I think it all worked out for the best.
Bringing it back to the Farm, what were your favorite classes and who were your favorite teachers?
I was the teaching assistant for American Sign Language classes through all five years of my undergrad and graduate years. Cathy Haas, the sign language professor, became like a second mother to me! [I like] Cliff Nass [in] any communication class. That man is a kooky genius! Howard Rheingold [social media and digital journalism] is one of the most brilliant, eclectic and creative people on the planet.
What's your favorite Stanford memory?
If I could go back and be a professional Stanford student for life, I would do it. It was absolutely the most incredible time in my life.
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