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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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For Kellogg student Sarah Wade, eternal optimism is a bad way to play Survivor — but a great way to live

Samantha Powers/Daily Senior Staffer
Sarah Wade, who competed on season 44 of “Survivor,” said the key to her success is consistency.

Second-year Kellogg School of Management student Sarah Wade has been watching “Survivor” since the first season debuted in 2000. Sitting with her family, she used to cover her eyes with her baby blanket when something scary came on the screen. 

Wade always wanted to compete on the show — and right before starting business school, she finally got her chance.

In June 2022, Wade competed as one of 18 contestants on season 44 of “Survivor.” For Wade, playing a 24/7 game of deception, strategy and athletic ability on the tropical islands of Fiji was her idea of perfect happiness.

“It was a total blast,” Wade said. “I would do it again 10 times over.”

Wade said getting to know so many different types of people — including a beauty salon owner from Puerto Rico and a firefighter from the Bronx — was a joy.

She added that the experience taught her to always pursue new adventures with gusto. She recently got the chance to travel to a mystery location as a bonding activity with a group of other incoming Kellogg students and took it.

Wade ended up in Chile, where she met some of her closest friends. On the cusp of their next educational journey, the students got to know one another, with one catch: they were told to conceal any major personal details until the end of the trip.

“The reason behind that is so you get to know people better without asking questions about the really basic stuff,” said Vishnu Nagireddy, third-year J.D.-M.B.A. student and one of Sarah’s good friends. “You have to kind of dig deep and actually ask deeper questions.”

Nagireddy said skipping the small talk actually allowed the students to get to know one another better — but it also meant Wade hadn’t told anyone about her “Survivor” stint.

Second-year Kellogg student Emma Vergara, another friend of Wade’s, said she was shocked when Wade revealed the truth.

“She had been telling people that she was just on a big trip in Fiji,” Vergara said. “I didn’t think anything of it, and then she told me, ‘I actually was on Survivor.’ And I was like, ‘what the hell?’ I was pretty surprised.”

Vergara may have been taken aback then, but she said it actually makes sense that Wade made it onto Survivor. 

Vergara said Wade is competitive and sporty, two of many qualities that make her well-suited for the show.

“Sarah is a very positive, peppy person,” Vergara said. “She’s also really smart. Also, she’s super athletic and fun. She’s kind of like a triple threat — and she’s beautiful. She’s got it all.”

According to Nagireddy, Wade won the affection of many Kellogg students when she started a business called “Beads by Sarah” and made custom bracelets for her classmates.

Nagireddy echoed Vergara’s sentiment that Wade’s smarts are as impressive as her survival skills. Wade secured an internship at Apple this summer, which Nagireddy said is particularly sought-after by Kellogg students.

“She is a very humble person, and she’s not going to come across as a know-it-all or anything like that,” Nagireddy said. “But she’s extremely intelligent and knows how to manage a situation, how to manage a room.”

Wade is the co-president of the Women’s Business Association, an organization dedicated to creating a supportive community of women leaders in Kellogg.

Wade said she is inspired in her leadership of WBA by her best friend, who died three years ago. She was a fierce advocate for women’s issues and gender equity, Wade said.

“I think keeping everything that she did and her legacy in mind is something that really drives me,” she said. “In a lot of ways, she is my hero.”

Even in the face of challenges, Wade keeps a positive mindset.

She said the key to her accomplishments is consistency. To her, success isn’t rocket science — it’s just a series of decisions you can choose to make.

“I’m optimistic that things are going to go in my favor,” Wade said. “I love that I have that. I don’t worry about stuff, which is a bad way to play ‘Survivor’ but a lovely way to go through life.”

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Twitter: @SQPowers04

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