Like many Hokies, Rick Devens is aiming to survive the weeks of May.
Unlike others, however, the 2006 graduate is attempting to do so in front of millions of viewers.
Devens was one of 18 people selected to take part in the most recent iteration of CBS’ Emmy Award-winning reality television competition, “Survivor: Edge of Extinction.” In its 38th season, the show, which airs on Wednesday at 8 p.m., features the well-known combination of physical, mental, and social challenges compounded with the emotional weight of being in an isolated, exotic location. The lone “Survivor” of this gauntlet earns a $1-million prize.
A graduate of nearby Blacksburg High School, Devens studied communication at Virginia Tech and currently works as newscaster in Macon, Georgia.
Entering the final month of the show, he has already been once voted off by his fellow contestants, was banished to the “Edge of Extinction,” and fought his way back into the game by winning a hotly contested challenge. We connected to ask Devens a few questions just prior to the season’s final episodes.
What motivated you to try out for Survivor?
I’ve been a huge Survivor fan since season 1. It’s a big show in my family. I like the outdoors. I’m an Eagle Scout. I’ve always wanted to see if I could manage out there.
What was your first thought when you realized you were going to be on this show?
My first thought was, I have a lot of work to do around the house to get ready. I was leaving my wife with two kids, two dogs, and two cats. I had to make sure that I did not leave her with all the bills to pay and other things that could be addressed in advance.
What did you expect would be the hardest aspect of the competition for you?
I wasn’t sure what the most challenging areas would be. I feel like I’m pretty well rounded, but not great at anything. I had a very ‘take it as it comes’ approach. So much depends who you land on the island with.
What did you most enjoy about being at Virginia Tech?
I love everything about Virginia Tech. My favorite thing was the intramural sports. My teammates on the Hobbes’ intramural sports franchise are still my best friends. I love jumping up and down to ‘Enter Sandman.’ Some of my favorite professors are still at Virginia Tech, including Dr. Wat Hopkins and Derley Aguilar.
How do you think your experiences at Tech — in the classroom, extracurriculars, socially, etc. — helped you during the show?
No doubt the fact that I participated in every possible intramural activity made me a well-rounded challenge player. I loved playing pick-up ball at the War Memorial gym and meeting all types of people around campus. I certainly developed a lot of my social skills in and around downtown Blacksburg.
Current students will be headed toward exams soon. Do you have any new wisdom from your “Survivor” experience that might help them make it through exam week?
‘Survivor’ is a lot like college exams. Your sleep and diet is sporadic and there’s a lot on the line. But like ‘Survivor,’ there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Hunker down and power through. Good luck!
Written by Travis Williams