Lying at the heart of the Franciscan School is a passion to cultivate environments that nurture students into life-long learners – and to be a family where everyone belongs.
As one of The Franciscan School’s first graduates, Lauren Steddum reflects on her experience and how the quality of education and community prepared her for the future.
“Some of my fondest memories include being a part of Mrs. Steven’s first 5th grade class, decorating Christmas cookies in Mr. DeLaRosa’s class, doing math with Ms. Hastings, learning Spanish with Señora Krull, and studying English with Ms. Souers,” Steddum says. “Each of these teachers is so special to me – they cared for me so well and they genuinely enjoyed teaching!”
Steddum, who started at The Franciscan School in fifth grade and graduated in 2004, is proof that academic excellence sets The Franciscan School apart.
Steddum was named valedictorian of Cardinal Gibbons High School in 2008, and moved on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the nation’s top-rated universities. She graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, a second major in Spanish and a minor in chemistry. She went on to dental school at East Carolina School of Dental Medicine, where she earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine, and then continued on to the Fayetteville VA Medical Center for a residency in Advanced Education in General Dentistry.
“TFS built a foundation that helped me succeed in high school and beyond,” Steddum says. “TFS is where I fell in love with learning – and where I learned some really valuable personal lessons, too. I learned to always be kind and always have faith in myself, even when things seem impossible.”
Now, Steddum is a general dentist and part owner of CarolinasDentist, a large practice with seven locations in North Carolina. In October, she will open a new office with the practice. And her practice isn’t the only thing that’s growing. In January, she and her husband, Chris – whom she met in dental school – will welcome a baby girl to the world.
“You never know what connections you’ll make and where those connections will lead you,” Steddum says. “I hope students at TFS today remember that while they can’t do everything, they can always keep an open mind, take advantage of the opportunities that come their way, and try lots of new things – and now is the best time to do that.”
For parents who are still considering whether The Franciscan School is the best environment for their children, Steddum offers a word of advice.
“Setting a good educational foundation is critical for success in high school, in college and in life – so it’s never too early to prepare for the future,” Steddum says. “At the same time, life is competitive and stressful, so enjoying the journey and having a solid, supportive community is key. TFS prepared me with a wonderful education – and offered me an incredible community to grow with, too.”