First Year Seminar Talk by Terry Deitz Explores "Survivorship"

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By Emily Hollenbach ’18

In May 2017, former Navy pilot Terry Deitz gave a talk for Dr. Patricia Tarantello's “Castaways, Outcasts, and Survivors” First Year Seminar. Mr. Deitz’s talk addressed the topic from two compelling perspectives: his time on the famous TV show Survivor, and his family’s experiences with organ donorship.

englishMr. Deitz highlighted several primary themes the FYS students had spent their semester studying. Dr.  Tarantello explained, “My students and I had read about the castaway experiences of characters like Robinson Crusoe and the Swiss Family Robinson and we had watched fictional characters like Chuck Noland from the movie Cast Away try to deal with the challenges of surviving on one's own. I felt that it would be useful to hear what life on a deserted island could really be like and what are the social challenges of participating in Survivor.”

According to Mr. Deitz, aspiring reality-television contestants need to understand the creative aspects of participating in a show. In addition to simply “being yourself,” contestants must be able to “tell a story” and connect with the audience.

Even more important, Mr. Deitz connected his role in television to challenges in his personal life. As Dr. Tarantello remarked, “he was able to speak about the concept of ‘survivorship’ in a deeper way than most because his teenage son is the recipient of a successful heart transplant.” Indeed, on his second round in Survivor, Mr. Deitz had to leave the show early to focus on his son’s health. These experiences provided students with a profound and inspiring example of resiliency in the real world.