Sigma Chi - Gettysburg College

Fall 2022 Newsletter

Theta Chapter of Sigma Chi at Gettysburg College

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2 The BATTLEFIELD SIG G oing into college, Dr. Orin S. Levine '88 never expected to follow in his father's footsteps in the epidemiology field. But he did exactly that, recently wrapping up 10 eventful years with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this role, Orin worked to help distribute vaccines and other primary healthcare resources globally. Another thing he never expected was to work through a global pandemic like COVID-19. "In many ways, we were not ready for that challenge, but we leaned in hard and worked through it," Orin recalls. Together, he and his team worked long hours to face the many obstacles together—not unlike the teamwork he once shared with his Sigma Chi brothers. FINDING THE BEST FIT Orin attributes his choice of fraternities to what his kids would now call "the vibe," or the feel of the chapter house and its residents. "The guys I met were laid back and it felt like a good fit, so I went with it." From studying together and learning pinochle to watching Phil Rice '88 demonstrate his ROTC training by jumping out a first-floor window (which he likened to jumping out of a plane), there was always fun to be had at Theta Chapter. The Sigma Chi experience went deeper than that, of course, as Orin and his brothers grew and worked together as an organization. "It's more than just living in the same house; you're committing to connecting on a deeper level," he said. "The friendships you make and the feeling of a shared purpose are important experiences that have stuck with me to this day." WORKING THROUGH ADVERSITY A few years after graduating from Gettysburg, Orin decided to study epidemiology at The Johns Hopkins University, earning his doctorate in 1994. His work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began in 2012 as the director for vaccine delivery. That morphed over time into a larger role as director of the Foundation's Global Development Program, which oversees projects on both immunization and primary healthcare. Over the years, Orin led a team ranging from 35 to 80 people, putting about $500 million a year into innovations and partnerships to help improve under-5 and maternal mortality rates, extend the reach of vaccines, and introduce other live-saving innovations and technologies to help people. He also had the honor of representing the foundation on the board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). "It was amazing to work with living philanthropists like Bill and Melinda in an organization that makes a big difference in people's lives," Orin said. "A lot of times when you work for a foundation, the benefactors are [no longer with us], so to work with them directly through the Foundation was incredible." The COVID-19 pandemic presented many new, unique challenges for Orin and his team. Not only did the virus disrupt their previous in-office work (like many businesses worldwide), but their job was also to fight and reduce the spread of COVID—the very thing disrupting their jobs! While pivoting to remote work, the Global Development Program took on the new tasks of sending prescription drugs, diagnostics, masks, and eventually vaccines to people around the world. "We had all this on our plate, in addition to the work we were already doing pre-pandemic," Orin explained. "We hadn't set that aside." "My team were like heroes. Everybody just stepped up and rose to the challenge." UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES After earning his doctorate, Orin started out as an epidemic intelligence service officer at the CDC, followed by becoming an on-staff epidemiologist. He then moved to Washington, D.C., to work at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Here, Orin worked on a vaccine trial in West Africa to combat pneumonia and meningitis. "It's incredible to think that just three jabs can help wipe out enough disease to give these kids a chance at life. Orin later went back to Johns Hopkins—this time as a professor—for nearly 10 years. In that role, he moved from inventing and testing vaccines to working in vaccine delivery for the first time. He led a team that designed a financial mechanism, called an Advanced Market Commitment, which they utilized to access $1.5 billion toward sending the vaccine to kids in impoverished countries. "It's been incredible to work on all this stuff, and there's a whole list of amazing people I've worked with and opportunities that I've had," he said. "It's all been really great." WHAT'S NEXT? After the many struggles from working to combat COVID (which sometimes had the team working 70 to 80 hours a week), Orin is ready to take some time off and ponder what to do next. "I think I have one more big [role] in me—I just need a little time to unwind and restore my energy. Whatever I do next will have purpose. I'm going to do it with people I love working with and with a group that can be all in for whatever we're trying to accomplish. I'm looking forward to the journey and figuring all that out." For today's Sigma Chi brothers, Orin has similar advice: just relax a little bit. "I see so many college kids who are worried about having it all figured out. Instead, I think this is the time to experiment, try different things on, and figure out what your passions are. I had no idea back in the house that I would be in this place at this time; there's no secret map to finding your path. Move forward with your own identity; making mistakes along the way is OK." Orin lives in Mercer Island, Washington, and looks forward to the next phase of his journey. "Sigma Chi was part of a Gettysburg experience that helped shape me," he says. "I'm sure it's still shaping members today, and I hope they just make the most of it. Enjoy every minute." You can reach Orin on LinkedIn at RISING TO THE CHALLENGE Orin Levine '88 Talks Vaccines, the Gates, and COVID Do you have a favorite quote, or someone who consistently inspires you? "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." –Maya Angelou Data brings a lot of rigor to what we do, and I kind of like that about the job. But that quote reminds me just having the facts or technically "being right" is not enough. You have to help people feel heard, included, and appreciated—not just bludgeoned with information. I've seen that approach too often in my field, even if they're right.

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