ST. LEO — A Saint Leo University alumnus announced a $1 million gift to the college this week to be used for scholarships.
John Picciano, who graduated from Saint Leo in 1969, came to what was then called Saint Leo College as a self-described underachiever in high school.
He moved to Florida from New York at age 17 and "matured quickly," he said in a news release.
"Saint Leo helped me actualize and utilize my potential."
He then went on to St. Vincent de Paul Major Seminary in Boyton Beach and was ordained a Catholic priest in Orlando, where he provided drug and alcohol counseling and interventions. While in the priesthood, Picciano went back to school at Barry University in Miami and earned a master's degree in clinical social work. He left the priesthood and began working with behavioral health patients, then transitioned to hospital administration. He has since become CEO of Oglethorpe, Inc., a hospital management company based in Tampa.
In 2008, Picciano reconnected with a Saint Leo faculty member who asked him to provide internships at Oglethorpe. That partnership proved fruitful, as Oglethorpe continues to offer internships to Saint Leo M.B.A. students.
Picciano said he was inspired to make this donation as a way to give other students the chances he had. The scholarships will be named in honor of his late brother, Carmine Picciano, class of 1976, who majored in music education at Saint Leo.
Picciano said he hopes his gift will inspire other alumni to give back.
"Many of us owe a debt of gratitude for the start in life that Saint Leo provided, and I encourage others to remember those times and keep that experience alive for others with philanthropic support," he said in the release.