Alumna Swati Goel competes in season 42 of “Survivor”

Most high school seniors wait with bated breath for graduation, counting down the days before they leave their hometown or go to college. However for Swati Goel—an alumna in the class of 2020—the dream was a little different. She wanted to be on “Survivor,” a reality-competition TV show. “Survivor” follows 16-20 contestants over the course of 26 days while stranded on an island. They must provide food, water, fire and shelter for themselves while competing in tribal and individual challenges with the goal of avoiding elimination by competitors and becoming the “Sole Survivor,”—the recipient of a $1 million prize. “As soon as I graduated high school, the first thing I did was apply,” Goel said. 

Goel has always been one for a challenge. Combining her love for the U.S. and passion for wanting to serve, Goel took a gap year to do basic combat training for the Army National Guard before embarking on her collegiate journey to study Computer Science at Harvard University. Goel’s intensive training, consisted of weightlifting, cycling and other physical exercises, equipping her both mentally and physically to embark on another challenge: being selected to compete on “Survivor” in summer of 2021

It was always a dream that I thought was probably not going to happen. To actually get to play ‘Survivor’ is a blessing and I’m so grateful.

— Class of 2020 alumni Swati Goel

To apply, Goel submitted a videotape: an alternative to an open-casting call. According to the CBS website, videos are intended for applicants to explain who they are, how their life experiences will help them win the game and how they will interact with other tribe members. Goel received a call-back after her video was selected, which led to a more extensive interview process. After receiving the news that she had been selected as a Season 42 show contestant, Goel was ecstatic. “I’ve wanted to be on ‘Survivor’ since forever,” she said. “All my best friends love the show and my family [does too].” 

Despite being voted off of “Survivor,” Goel emphasizes that her experience on the show was an incredibly formative experience. She describes her first moment stepping onto the beach, seeing Jeff Probst (the host of the show) and fully realizing that she would be a part of “Survivor.” “It was always a dream that I thought was probably not going to happen,” she said. “To actually get to play ‘Survivor’ is a blessing and I’m so grateful.”

Watch Season 42 of “Survivor” every Wednesday on CBS.