SUPERWOMAN. Wonderwoman. Yes, those are the best words I can think of to describe the extraordinary, 37-year-old Philly home girl, Ala Standford Frey.
An uber woman, she successfully juggles family and career and still makes it to the gym at least three days a week. When I recently caught up with her, she was chatting with me on the phone while simultaneously pumping breast milk for her 8-month-old before running to her next meeting.
Born to teenage parents and raised in North Philadelphia and Mount Airy, Frey is proof positive that it ultimately doesn't matter where you start the race, but how you finish it. She is a living example that dreams do come true and that hard work pays off.
Frey is a member of a very elite group, a certified pediatric surgeon and the first African-American female pediatric surgeon to be trained completely in the United States. Since high school, she has spent approximately half of her life in school. She is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, the State University of New York, and completed her pediatric surgical training at Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital.
But, despite her lofty achievements, this modest and down-to-earth doctor is quick to give props to her predecessor, "Actually, Canadian-trained Dr. Andrea Hayes-Jordan is the first African-American pediatric surgeon and she practices in Houston, Texas," said Frey.
Going full circle, Frey doesn't just talk the talk, she walks the walk and pays it forward, too. Now she is at Temple University, where she both inspires and saves lives in her former neighborhood.
Recently she was appointed director of the Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities at Temple University School of Medicine. She knows all too well that people in the community are suffering disproportionately from preventable and treatable health issues. "The purpose of the Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities is to improve the access of care to the people of North Philadelphia and work toward eliminating health disparities through educational programming, mentoring and translational research," said Frey.
Additionally, she is the director of pediatric surgical services at Abington Memorial Hospital, where she operates daily on premature infants through young adults. "I operate at Abington Memorial Hospital and perform the more complex procedures at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children," said Frey.
Always raising the bar, Ala explained her philosophy. "I compete with myself and sub-optimal performance is not an option. Hard work will solve 90 percent of your problems and the other 10 percent you just have to let go . . . With perseverance, desire, belief in yourself and your abilities, the possibilities are endless."
I second that!
"I am truly blessed, I give much of myself to my patients, but what I receive is immeasurable . . . My husband keeps me grounded and my son keeps me smiling," said this proud mom.
Join 12th Street Gym for a very special dance workshop at noon on Dec. 18. Meet the cast of "A Chorus Line" and kick up your heels with choreography right from the Tony Award-winning show! This event is free, but reservations are required. Call 215-985-4092 to save your place in the class. Hurry, space is very limited!
An added bonus: You might win a pair of tickets to see the show, which is playing at the Forrest Theatre next Tuesday through Jan. 4. When you sign up for the workshop, you'll be entered to win, but you need to present at the 12th Street Gym event to win.
For info about the show or to buy tickets, go to www.forrest-theatre.com. *
Kimberly Garrison is a certified personal trainer and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia (www.1on1ultimatefitness.com).
E-mail her at