Out on a Limb: Angela Stolfi ’96, ’97, ’06
Helping people is what Angela Stolfi ’96, ’97, ’06 was born to do. Nearly every member of her family worked in a helping profession. Her dad was a firefighter, one grandparent was a doctor and her mom was a nurse. Stolfi always knew she’d end up in a medical field, but wasn’t sure which one. During her junior year of high school she discovered the answer.
“I really found physical therapy by accident,” she said. “Instead of going to Latin class one day, the school let us attend a career fair. While I was there I met a physical therapist and I thought, ‘Wow, this is everything I want.’ After that day, there was nothing else I wanted to do.”
During her search for a college, the reputation of Scranton’s Physical Therapy (PT) department was a major draw. “I did apply to a number of other schools, but I knew from the moment I visited that Scranton was where I wanted to go,” Stolfi explained. “Scranton felt like home.”
At the time, the physical therapy program at Scranton offered a five-year, entry-level Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy (MPT). The program prepared Stolfi and other physical therapy students for their careers. Perhaps the faculty did even more.
“One of the things I appreciated was the support I received from my professors,” said Stolfi. “Dr. Renee Hakim, Dr. Barbara Wagner, Dr. John Sanko, Dr. Gary Mattingly, Dr. Ed Kosmahl – they were all so inspiring.”
Today, Stolfi is the director of physical therapy at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Rehabilitation, which has been ranked a top 10 (nationally) rehabilitation program by U.S. News & World Report for 24 years. She manages a staff of more than 150 employees at four main sites and two satellite locations in Manhattan. Between the campus based and online programs, 15 of the physical therapists at Rusk are Scranton graduates.
Stolfi is also adjunct faculty for the PT department at Scranton, lecturing each fall on women’s health and teaching in the online transitional doctorate program.
“I love being in administration because I get the opportunity to work with so many talented professionals and also get to coordinate our student program. I look at students and remember sitting there, just as they are now. It’s fun to be connected to the classroom and go back to where you started. It provides moments of reflection about where you’ve been and what you’ve done.”
No moment in her career has provided more opportunity for reflection than the night Hurricane Sandy threatened not just her patients’ lives, but Stolfi’s own. “We were prepared for the hurricane to happen and I planned to stay. We had no idea that an evacuation would happen.”
What happened next was a purposeful and impassioned effort by Stolfi and the rest of the medical center team to ensure the safety of everyone in the facility. The challenge of evacuation took Stolfi back to her time at Scranton in many ways.
“I’ve always thought when you’re working with people you can teach them a technique or skill, but you can’t teach them team spirit or the willingness to be a part of something. I feel that at NYU, and I felt it at Scranton,” she said. “I made great friendships and connections in Scranton that I’ve maintained for almost 20 years.”