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Foothill Instructor Competes on Survivor

katrina radke

Foothill psychology instructor Katrina Radke recently traveled to Fiji to compete on Season 35 of the reality show Survivor. The show pits three tribes against each other in challenges for rewards and immunity from elimination. Contestants must find their own food, water and shelter while vying to become the Sole Survivor and win the $1 million grand prize. The new season premieres Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Radke, a longtime Survivor fan, often watches the show with her husband, son and daughter. “We love the games, they’re amazing,” she said. “The human dynamics that go on when you put people in a situation where you have to vote people off creates a lot of fear and paranoia. It’s really interesting to see what happens to people in that situation.”

The theme of this season of Survivor is Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. Radke swam with the U.S. National Swim Team as a teenager and even earned a spot in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, placing fifth in the 200-meter butterfly. She now works as a trained marriage and family therapist, but her Olympic past led to her inclusion on the hero team.

“When you do the confessionals and talk to a producer, I would say I should be on the healer tribe, because that’s very much more who I am now,” Radke said.  “I know for show purposes they have to create roles, but it does influence how people see you.”

As a competitive swimmer, Radke trained six hours each day, six days a week. That tough training took a toll on her immune system, and as an undergrad at UC Berkeley, Radke was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. The pain made it difficult to sleep and to walk. For two years she was almost bedridden. During that time, one of Radke’s professors invited her to visit the ashram he shared with a world-renowned Indian guru. It was there that she found solace in meditation and yoga.

“I realized how powerful it is to quiet the mind. It really helped me heal,” Radke said, adding that she also did acupuncture twice a week. “My doctor ended up becoming a father figure to me and guided me toward where I could go in my life versus my present sick self.”

Before becoming an instructor at Foothill, Radke worked for corporations and startups specializing in mental health, chronic illness and neuroscience. She currently lives in Minnesota and teaches Psychology of Sports and Human Sexuality online. In Psychology of Sports she encourages students to enhance who they are and let go of their limits – useful advice for her own experience on Survivor.

“[The show] is a journey, and if you can connect and be amongst the people and nature and look within yourself it can be a powerful growth experience,” said Radke. “On top of that it’s a blast.”

Radke can’t reveal too much about the show but she feels fortunate to have been a part of it. “It gave me a deep appreciation for how we all put these beliefs in our head and project them onto others even if they’re not real. It’s important to be clear on who you are and not get caught up in what other people might see,” she said. “I’m usually pretty direct, honest and truthful. We’ll have to see as the show goes on whether I stay to that or not.”