College of Health Sciences
DISTINGUISHED ALUMNA OF THE YEAR AWARD
Dr. Theresa Monaco Spitznagle, PT '86
As a trailblazer for women’s health in physical therapy, Tracy uses her profession to enrich the lives of women around the world.
At 14, Tracy decided she wanted to be a physical therapist, a goal that was always supported by her parents who instilled in her a deep faith in God and belief in herself. “Marquette provided me with a wonderful base, my PT education and an environment of faith from which to grow,” says Tracy.
After receiving her undergraduate degree from Marquette, Tracy went on to receive both her master’s and doctor of physical therapy degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. She now serves as professor of physical therapy and obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine, one of the top physical therapy programs in the country.
“I love the diversity of activity that I have cultivated across all aspects of my work. Patient care, mentoring, teaching, research and advocacy for physical therapy for women with childbirth injuries. I have been able to combine my personal and my professional values, putting compassion into action,” she says.
Tracy has made 12 trips to Africa working in health centers and communities focusing on birth injury education and rehabilitation. Her philanthropy through the Worldwide Fistula Fund has engaged multiple physical therapists in Ethiopia, Niger and soon, Uganda. In 2018 she was awarded the American Physical Therapy Association Humanitarian Award.
Name a Marquette faculty or staff member who had an impact: “Women’s health education at the time I was in school was not incorporated into physical therapy entry-level education. Dr. Emilie Aubert, attempted to incorporate a key childbirth issue, in our pediatric unit, providing me with background on diastasis recti abdominis. I went on to publish on this condition early in my career.”
Most influential people: “I believe that both my parents were influential in forming the person I am today. My father taught me to have faith in God, believe in myself, laugh and to embrace community. My mother supported my choices, taught me to value education and through her spiritual growth, taught me about forgiveness. My professional growth and ability to put my compassion into action has been dramatically influenced by Dr. Lewis Wall.”