Courtney Yates BA '03 has survived working at Logan Airport, a high-end hair salon, and historic homes in Salem, MA, where she donned a period costume as an "interpreter." 

Now, the 26-year-old Melrose native is trying to survive shifting alliances, elaborate challenges, and a series of tribal council votes to win the $1 million first place prize on Survivor: China. The hit CBS television reality series began its 15th installment on September 20.

Courtney, who lives and works in New York City, described herself in a video profile prior to the beginning of the series as being the "anti-Survivor" contestant, adding she had no set strategy on how to keep from being voted off the show. "This whole thing is like a whim," she said. "If the cards go my way, great. If they don't, whatever."

But she must have done something right as she made it through the first week of competition along with her seven other Fei Long teammates.

Courtney was not shy in speaking up during the first week, keeping her self-described edginess as she became increasingly annoyed at her tribe members' positive energy while they worked on their shelter before nightfall.

"I seemed to be marooned in a land of flight attendants and Sunday school teachers. This is like my own private hell," she said. Some observers are wondering if such remarks will make the necessary friends or lead to her torch being snuffed out after just two weeks on the island.

For those of us caught up in the Survivor phenomenon, there are scores of Web sites and blogs devoted to the show, as well as an official fantasy league so you can play along at home - sort of - and root for your fellow alumna.

A Web site called handicapped Courtney as tied for 10th with 13-1 odds of her being the final survivor. But here at Suffolk, she's the odds-on favorite.