Charitable survivor an inspiration for students

The third installment of this fall’s University Lecture Series will be held at the USF Soccer/Track Stadium at 7 p.m. with Survivor: Africa winner Ethan Zohn giving a speech titled “Character: The Ultimate Survival Tool.” The lecture is co-sponsored by ULS and Hillel of Tampa Bay, which originally suggested the idea to bring Zohn to USF.

After winning Survivor: Africa in January 2002, Zohn used his million-dollar grand prize to start a charitable organization called “Grassroot Soccer.” Zohn, a former professional soccer player, sought to recruit well-known players to educate African children on the dangers of HIV and AIDS.

Zohn’s charity work has earned him many accolades, such as the Nkosi Johnson Community Spirit Award by the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, and the Auxiliary Chimusoro Award, given to Zohn by the U.S. State Department office in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Zohn has also become a motivational speaker, and his experiences with self-confidence and a strong moral character will be the basis of his speech at USF.

“He talks about using your character and personality to overcome all odds,” said Mike Dolinger, program coordinator for the Office of Student Programming.

According to Lori Drutz, program director for Hillel’s USF chapter, Zohn’s agent said he is expected to relay his own character-building experiences, such as the death of his father when he was 14. He will also discuss how he grew as a person while he attended college, played professional soccer, and eventually won Survivor.

“If students learn how to effectively develop their character now, they will be able to apply those valuable character traits in the business world,” Drutz said.

According to Drutz, Hillel sought to bring Zohn to USF because they felt he could relate to the students as he is younger than past ULS speakers. Hillel also felt it would be enlightening for an athlete to give a lecture at USF, as they felt ULS does not usually pursue athletes to host lectures, Drutz said.

ULS is funded by activity and service fees, and co-sponsored by Student Government. Hillel and Volunteer USF are also sponsoring “Survivor-a-Bull” this afternoon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at MLK Plaza. A map of Africa will be drawn on the plaza, and different teams will be competing to acquire the largest number of canned goods. The winners will be announced at the soccer field before Zohn’s speech. The canned goods will be donated to the Tampa AIDS Network.