Hampton University Professor Joins Cast of ‘Survivor’

This fall, a Hampton University professor will be putting herself to the test in Fiji as a castaway on the long-running CBS reality show “Survivor.”

Dr. Desiree Williams, director of the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute and assistant professor of physical therapy, will be one of 18 castaways on the show’s 35th season, doing her best to ‘Outwit, Outplay and Outlast’ her fellow contestants.

This season is called “Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers,” and will feature players divided into three tribes based on the positive traits that most people associate them with.

Tribes include the hero tribe, comprised of those with lots of courage, the healer tribe, or those who help others, and the hustler tribe, or those who are determined and tenacious.

(Photo courtesy Hampton University)

The three tribes will be known as Levu for the Heroes, Soko for the Healers, and Yawa for the Hustlers.

Williams, a practicing physical therapist, is a member of the Soko, or healers, tribe.

Williams received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Hampton University, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in health and physical education and a minor in leadership studies.

She is also no stranger to the limelight.

She was crowned Miss Hampton University and served from 2010 to 2011. She was also featured in Ebony Magazine’s “10 Historically Black College or University (HBCU) Campus Queens” in 2011.

She was voted Miss Virginia in 2013 and Miss Virginia USA in 2016.

Williams’ other pageantry wins include Miss National Sweetheart, Miss Peninsula and Miss Arlington and she placed in the top ten of the 2016 Miss USA beauty pageant.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Williams accredits social media with landing her a spot on the show.

“Somebody slid into my DMs,” Williams said.

Late last year, she received a message from someone who claimed to work in the show’s casting department. The employee asked if she would like to apply for the show.

She likes her odds out there, including her ability to maintain her cool in stressful situations.

“I cannot complain,” she said. “I think what gets to a lot of people is people are complaining about the conditions. Like, yeah, we’re living outside — but we’re also in Fiji. So, suck it up, baby.”

The season will premiere on Wednesday, September 27 at 8:00 p.m.