“Work hard and care, that will be enough.”

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Christopher Olivia, MD, Shares His TKE Experience

We recently sat down with Christopher Olivia, MD, to hear about his experience as a TKE brother. Here’s what he said:

Q: Why did you join Tau Kappa Epsilon?
A: I attended Penn State over summer session and met Dave Murr, Emery Udvari and several other senior and graduating TKEs.  I joined TKE because of the relationship I developed with them.

Q: What is your best memory from your TKE days?
A: There were so many, it is hard to select one.  Let’s see, my pledge bolt to UVA stands out; hell week sleeping under Larry Dennis’ bed (he made me study); our many sessions running the USG Traffic Court with fellow justices Andy “Tink” Schaum and Brian “Shivvy” Shivler; Bagging Season (the present actives should name a Grand Bag and definitely bring this one back.  Contact Frater John O’Connor for background as he was the best there ever was); our intramural IFC football championship in 1981 when we were led at QB by the indomitable Jim “Colt” Colton; the many Saturday night parties with my two roommates David S. Vaughn “Vaughny” and Brian Shivler; and rebuilding the basement senior year with Fraters Joe Cecere, Eric Krieger, Marty Gillespie and John Boland.  Hard to believe that the place is still standing given the skill level of the construction crew.

Q: How has your membership in TKE benefitted you in your professional life?
A: College gives you three things:  a piece of paper, it opens up that first door and it teaches you how to deal with people.  The last one is the most important and having a leadership role at TKE and USG provided invaluable experience on how to run an organization at a young age.  You will learn ten fold more from your fraternity brothers in four years than your professors and very little of the latter will stick with you throughout life.  If you don’t believe me, watch Father Guido Sarducci’s 5-minute university on YouTube and find out for yourself. I have run 7 companies and the lessons I learned at TKE were put to use in each and every one of them.

Q: What are the top 3 things you gained from your TKE membership?
A: In order, the lifelong friendship of the brotherhood, general organizational and people skills and a sense of having a home port in the massive sea that is the Penn State University Park Main Campus.

Q: Are there any brothers you regret losing touch with over the years? What would it mean to you to renew your connection as alumni?
A: My life has taken me to someplace new every 5 years or so.  It has been hard to stay in touch traveling as we have moved to 7 different locations over the past 35 years.  David Vaughn, Joe Cecere and Bill “Ziggy” Ziegler come to mind here.

Q: If you could give an active brother one piece of advice, what would it be?
A: Same advice the late, great Bill “Wise Guy” Wise who was our Prytanis when I pledged gave me: “Work hard and care, that will be enough.”

Q: Share an update (family, career, hobbies, other interesting news).
A: I have been very active at PSU since graduation.  I am on the Eberly College of Science (eCOS) Dean’s Board, The eCOS Fundraising Committee of President Barron’s “A Greater Penn State for the 21st Century” fundraising campaign, The College of Science Technology Transfer Board and the Masters of Health Administration Advisory Board (in Health and Human Development) all at PSU.  In addition, my wife and I have created a scholarship for underprivileged children from Pennsylvania who wish to study STEM at PSU as well as creating the first technology transfer fund at Penn State to accelerate the commercialization of basic science research. Finally, my youngest son Rocco Olivia has enrolled and will begin his studies at Penn State University Park this Fall along with Frater Gillespie’s son Aidan.  Rocco is the 10th extended Olivia family member and the third generation Olivia to pursue his degree at our Alma Mater. Another TKE in the making?

Christopher T. Olivia, MD

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