Wong to be Honored as Distinguished Alumna at Northeastern

Dr. Rita Wong will receive the Distinguished Alumna Award on Nov. 7 from her alma mater, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University. Wong will be honored at a dinner as part of the centennial celebration of physical therapy education at Northeastern, where she received her bachelor’s degree in 1971.

Known for her work in geriatric physical therapy and education, Wong is associate dean of graduate and professional studies at Marymount University and a professor of physical therapy.

“The world has changed a lot since I entered the profession,” she said. “Forty years ago geriatrics was a very small part of physical therapy and you only needed a bachelor’s degree, not a doctorate, to enter the workforce.”

Wong received her master’s degree in physical therapy from Boston University and her Ed.D. from Clark University. She came to Marymount in 1995 as founding director of the Physical Therapy program after holding a senior faculty position at the University of Connecticut. She is a Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association, the highest honor given in recognition of a member’s contribution to the profession.

“I was one of the early people looking at ways to educate students about geriatric physical therapy,” Wong said. “When I was at UConn the dean needed someone, so I started working in geriatrics. I don’t think I fully realized what I was getting into, but I’ve always been one of those individuals willing to take on the next challenge.”

In the late 1980s, Wong was one of three members serving on the APTA’s first geriatric specialty council which pioneered certification in that area.

“Now there are several thousand certified geriatric physical therapist specialists,” said Wong, who is also a licensed physical therapist in Virginia.

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Dr. Rita Wong