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 Fran