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Sanctae Crucis Award Recipients 2009

Lisa D. Levine, M.D. ’01

Even when faced with abject poverty and desperately unhealthy conditions, Dr. Lisa Levine has learned, very early in her career in medicine, that education, treatment and dedication can make a lifesaving difference.

After majoring in chemistry at Holy Cross, Lisa earned her medical degree at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and is now a third-year resident in Einstein’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Health.  In recent years, as the calendar brought her vacation time nearer, Lisa would plan not for some glorious “downtime” after the physically taxing, pressure-packed months of study and training.  Instead, she would set off for a journey thousands of miles and worlds away from her New York home as a volunteer with the not-for-profit organization “Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer.”

As a member of Prevention International, Lisa has given her time and funded her own travel to remote villages in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Cuba as well as the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania to provide critical treatment and care to hundreds of women and girls. 

On a recent trip to Uganda, Lisa and her fellow volunteers saw 545 women in five days, and 34 of her patients were treated for precancerous lesions.  Cervical cancer, if caught early, is easily treatable, but more than 300,000 women die from the disease each year, most of those in second and third world nations, where healthcare providers can be undertrained and overwhelmed. It is no wonder, then, that when women hear that Lisa and her colleagues will be in a particular village, the word spreads like wildfire.  Lisa has treated women who have walked for miles, who wait for hours, who sleep overnight on the bare ground for the opportunity to see a doctor.

Lisa’s passion for bringing healthcare to underserved communities began just after her Holy Cross graduation. Encouraged by her parents and a desire to communicate better with her future patients, she embarked on a six-week trip to Costa Rica to immerse herself in the culture and learn Spanish. She worked at the Alajuela health clinic, where the poor conditions and lack of resources changed forever the way Lisa viewed her calling to medicine.  From this nascent experience, she has coupled her rigorous training and clinical experience with the Jesuit call she takes so seriously:  to serve and stand in solidarity with others. 

For embarking on a path to become a selfless, empathetic healer; for her advocacy for women’s health issues and commitment to global social justice, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Dr. Lisa D. Levine Class of 2001 theSanctae Crucis Award.