Born February 7, 1963 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Graduated from Derham Hall High School, St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1980; received a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984, and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985.
Received "VADM C.R. Bryan Award" Class 2-88B, Engineering Duty Officer Basic Course. Awarded Meritorious Service Medal, 2 Navy Commendation Medals, 2 Navy Achievement Medals, and other service medals. "Most Valuable Player Award" MIT Women's Crew in 1982. Stefanyshyn-Piper received her commission from the Navy ROTC Program at MIT in June 1985. Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996, Stefanyshyn-Piper reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996.