When Anne Marie Ciciarelli was a student at Bishop Grimes High School in the early 1970s she knew what career she wanted to pursue but needed to decide the best path to get there. “I was pretty sure about physical therapy but I wanted to ultimately attend Upstate. I thought it made the most sense to go to OCC and earn a two-year degree so I would have something to fall back on just in case.”
Everything worked out exactly as planned. She graduated from OCC in 1975, earned a bachelor’s in physical therapy from Upstate Medical Center in 1977 and married her high school sweetheart Joseph Abt one year later. In 2006 she earned a transitional doctor of physical therapy degree from Upstate Medical University. Today Dr. Anne Marie Abt is well-known as both a physical therapist and an adjunct instructor in the Physical Therapy Education Program in the College of Health Professions at SUNY Upstate Medical University. She has also been a guest lecturer at OCC for several years in the Human Services major. In recognition of her professional achievements and contributions to the College and community Abt is a 2015 Alumni Faces honoree.
It’s been 40 years since Abt earned her Math & Science degree here but her experiences during that time remain fresh in her mind. “I was really challenged by a Physics professor named Alan Gammon. His class was the best class and the worst class I ever took. It was so challenging. He taught me about perseverance and the importance of applying yourself to the material. He was an excellent teacher.”
Dr. Abt additionally credits the English department with improving her critical thinking skills. “I really turned into a good writer thanks to the strength of that department. I had some really good teachers. OCC was a great stepping stone for me.”
Today Dr. Abt is a physical therapist in the Jamesville-Dewitt School District. She works with students with diagnosed disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, developmental coordination disorder and children who are speech and language impaired. Dr. Abt is also an adjunct instructor in the Physical Therapy Education Program at SUNY Upstate Medical University where she teaches a pediatrics therapy course to doctoral students. She is a board certified pediatric clinical specialist and is part of the Fitness Inclusion Network affiliated with Upstate which promotes inclusive fitness for children and adults with disabilities.