Cornell Student Tackles Survivor
By ERICA TEMEL Cornell Daily Sun
Oftentimes a senior feels like he or she is a Cornell survivor, making it past all the work and commitments to graduate. Now Cornell students have an actual "survivor" of their very own, namely Cornell alumnus Matthew Von Ertfelda '94, a contestant on the current season of the popular reality TV series Survivor.
Von Ertfelda's very diverse background helped him land a spot in the Tambaqui tribe in the Amazon, where the show was taped for this season. Born in Hong Kong, Von Ertfelda has lived all over the globe, including Taipei, Taiwan; Paris, France and South Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He speaks English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, French and German.
In addition to being multilingual, Von Ertfelda has gone on many exotic excursions that have prepared him well to compete on Survivor: The Amazon, including treks though unmapped areas of New Guinea and through the Darien Gap, a stretch of jungle between Panama and Colombia known for its low survival rate. Von Ertfelda also keeps himself in peak physical condition, competing in marathons and triathlons. All of these characteristics drew CBS executives to the Cornell graduate.
"Matthew Von Ertfelda is a charming, well-traveled individual with many life experiences from all over the world. Although he admitted to not having seen the show before he participated in Survivor: The Amazon, he was very enthusiastic and eager to embark on the adventure of a lifetime," said Colleen Sullivan, CBS director of publicity.
A student at the School of Hotel Administration, Von Ertfelda made both the dean's list and the Golden Key National Honor Society during his time at Cornell. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree with distinction. In addition to his Cornell degree, Von Ertfelda also holds a culinary diploma with honors from L'Ecole de Gastronomie Franšaise Ritz-Escoffier in Paris, France. Von Ertfelda currently designs restaurants and bars for Marriott International, based in Bethesda, Maryland, and lives in Washington, D.C. He also works as a freelance model.
While famous alumni are not uncommon at Cornell, students who watch Survivor are very excited that a Cornell graduate is on the show.
"I think it's about time Cornell is represented on Survivor; Cornell students have all that it takes to win," said Laura Scheckner '06. "A winner on Survivor needs all the qualities that a Cornell student has: perseverance, determination and wit ... which is why Matthew Von Ertfelda will win."
Other students who do not normally watch the show admit that seeing a Cornell alum compete is appealing.
"I'd probably tune in to the first show, but because I don't know the person I probably wouldn't watch anymore afterwards," said Dylan Greif '06.
No stranger to the media, Von Ertfelda was named one of People Magazine's top fifty bachelors of 2002, an honor he called "kind of a fluke but a fun ride" in his Survivor audition tape.
Because of the nature of the show, viewers must tune in each week to see if Von Ertfelda will remain as a competitor in the Amazon, or if he will face early departure by being voted off the show.