From a Leader on the Field, to a Leader in the Operating Room


Stefana Avara, Staff

2004 CHS alumna Dr. Claire Cunniff recently received a distinguished graduate award for her success in the medical field. Her success and hard-work started back in high school.

Despite being a busy student-athlete, Cunniff didn’t slack off in high school; she balanced various AP classes while participating in multiple extracurricular activities.

“I pushed myself to take AP classes and study hard for the exams like the SAT. I played field hockey in the fall and lacrosse in the spring every year, with lacrosse club teams filling the seasons in between,” explained Cunniff.

Her time management skills didn’t stop when she left CHS. Cunniff played Division 1 lacrosse for the University of Richmond while completing her undergraduate degree. She graduated in 2008 with a degree in biology.

“The lacrosse team and coaching staff at CHS pushed me to be the best player I could, which helped me get a lacrosse scholarship for college,” Cunniff added.

Cunniff then went on to attend medical school at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, completing her M.D. in 2012.

“I am currently completing a fellowship in adult cardiothoracic anesthesiology at Duke University Hospital,” said the doctor.

Dr. Cunniff feels that CHS provided the challenging academics required for her future as a doctor, preparing her for the challenges every day in her career.

She describes her greatest challenge as “training with the long days of work followed by demands of continued studying—[her] board exams have not ended yet!”

Cunniff wanted to remind current students of the importance of focusing and excelling in high school. She explained how her years of hard work at CHS helped develop discipline useful in her rigorous career in the medical field.

“Success in high school can provide an early foundation for any successful career,” she exclaimed.

The doctor attributes her career development and many of her leadership skills to the years she spent playing sports in high school.

“I think my years in athletics have helped me shape my ability to instantly make decisions and be a leader in the operating room,” said Cunniff.

Dr. Claire Cunniff believes that CHS has had a part in preparing her for the future, saying, “I would definitely not be where I am today without the guidance and support provided by the CHS faculty.”