Ethan Zohn: Using character to help win in life and in tv

Nothing slows down CAMPUSPEAK speaker Ethan Zohn. He has won a season of the hit reality show Survivor, started his own AIDS awareness nonprofit and has battled, and defeated a rare form of cancer. His ventures now take him back into television where he is competing on this season of The Amazing Race and is hosting his own health television show, Everyday Health.

We got together with Ethan to get a first-hand scoop of all the action.

You’re now competing on The Amazing Race with your girlfriend, Jenna Morasca…what made you try out?
For Jenna and I, The Amazing Race is a celebration of life. I want to get busy living for every single moment. This time last year I was attached to a pump in a hospital room crushing cancer. Now, I get to travel the world, compete at the highest level with the person I love. Take THAT cancer!

After knowing you were going to be competing on The Amazing Race, what were you hoping to gain from the experience?
For me it was an opportunity to share my story and to prove to the world that there is life after cancer.

Your message to college students is all about character. How did The Amazing Race test your character?
Being lost, late, hungry, broke in a foreign country where you cant speak the language are all of my worst fears. That’s exactly what The Amazing Race is like. At every turn there was the chance to make a mistake….and unfortunately, sometimes we did. But, it’s how you bounce back from the mistakes is what truly matters. Never let a crisis go to waste because it’s an opportunity to do some really important stuff.

How does what you’ve learned from your experiences on The Amazing Race relate to college students?
This game impacts every part of you as a human being. Mental, physical, spiritual, social and even environmental—similar to the way that college impacts the students. The way I played the game is the way I live my life—with good character and being selfless, a leader, a teacher and a member of the community. All these things helped me on the race and can help students in school.

You are also a host of your own health show, Everyday Health, what is the best part about this gig?
I have the best job in the world. I get to travel the country and meet the most extraordinary-ordinary people who are experiencing a health crisis, or are close to someone facing a life-altering health event, and who is not wasting time to help others in a similar situation. I get to share their story to the world and I get to pay it forward.

What are you most excited about in the future, now that you’re partaking in these two exceptional experiences?
My dream is to make happiness real for others, because it’s truly the greatest gift in the world. If I can continue doing that, my future will be awesome.

What key components have you learned from these experiences that you feel can help college students during their journey?
My mom told me “A bird does not sing because it has the answers, its sings because it has a song.” I don’t have all the answers, I’m not a doctor, psychologist or a professor, but I’ve been through some serious stuff and learned a lot from some inspirational people. We all manage to figure some things out on our own.

I will share my song, my experience and hopefully it can help students on their journey through school and life.

Watch Ethan build character and spread happiness on his two new television shows this fall. The Amazing Race is on Sundays at 8pm EST, and check your ABC local listings for episodes of Everyday Health.

Ethan brings college students a unique perspective on life—from winning a challenging television game to winning in the real game of life—he uses his character to defeat all obstacles standing in his way. To get your students to see their true potential when they spend a little time etching their character into the best it can be, bring Ethan to your campus.

For more information on Ethan and how he can share his extraordinary experiences on your campus, check out