Commencement Speaker

Cynthia B. Piccirilli, M.D. will deliver the commencement address and receive an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service at La Roche’s 54th graduation ceremony.

Cynthia B. Piccirilli was born and raised in Altoona, Pennsylvania, where she was one of six children and surrounded by a large extended family. She graduated summa cum laude from La Roche University with a Bachelor of Science in biology.

During college she was a young member of the Sisters of Divine Providence, and after graduation and additional religious training, she taught high school science and math. She soon realized medicine was her other calling.

In 1984 she became a commissioned officer in the United States Navy and graduated with a doctor of medicine degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Edward F. Herbert School of Medicine. Dr. Piccirilli completed her surgical internship in general surgery, followed by residency training in neurosurgery at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. She graduated in 1995, becoming the first woman to complete training in a military neurosurgery program.

Following residency she was stationed as a staff neurosurgeon at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. She served in a variety of roles including: Department Chair of Neurosurgery, President of the Executive Committee of the Medical Staff, and Specialty Advisor for Neurosurgery to the Surgeon General of the Navy. She also was an active member of the Craniofacial Board.

Augmentation assignments took Dr. Piccirilli to Okinawa, Japan and Landstuhl, Germany where she provided neurosurgical care; in 2003 she deployed to Kuwait with a Navy fleet hospital in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Dr. Piccirilli was recognized by her peers as a Master Clinician at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

In 2016 Captain Piccirilli completed her naval career and honorably retired with more than 31 years of dedicated service. Her military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (awarded thrice) and the Joint Service Achievement Award.

Dr. Piccirilli was awarded the Professional Achievement Award by La Roche University in 1996. In 2000 she was selected as a member of the inaugural group of Distinguished Alumni of Altoona Area High School, and in 2013 she was an inaugural member of the La Roche University Distinguished Alumni Circle.  

Dr. Piccirilli resides in Chesapeake, Virginia, with her spouse of 18 years and her mother, for whom she provides home care.