Alumni Spotlight: Leigh McGill '09

One of the core values of The Franciscan School is to cultivate a nurturing, faith-filled environment that everyone can call home. Whether students attend for one year or nine, we desire to see them valued and thriving. For ‘09 alumna Leigh McGill, most of her childhood was spent at TFS. “I grew up at TFS and was given a safe environment to learn, grow, and flourish,” shares McGill. “Some of my oldest friends and memories were made at the school, and I truly feel that it was an amazing place to begin my education.” 

McGill has indeed built a strong educational pathway since her time at TFS. After attending TFS from kindergarten through eighth grade, she graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School. She soon traveled to the University of South Carolina to receive her bachelor’s degree in public health, and then came back home to the Triangle to achieve her Master of Public Health degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2021. “TFS gave me a solid foundation academically and spiritually,” says McGill, “and it prepared me to move on to Cardinal Gibbons and the rest of my life.”

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McGill is currently working as a Public Health Analyst at RTI International, an independent nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition. McGill says she chose public health because she was always interested in nonprofits and wanted to have a career where she felt like she was helping others. “I hope one day to be a program director for a mental health research program or community organization,” shares McGill. TFS’ pillar of service makes serving others an embedded trait in students and an integral part of their spiritual and academic foundation. 

Sports were also an instrumental piece of McGill’s childhood and development. While attending TFS, she played soccer, basketball, and volleyball. As her primary sport, McGill shares that soccer taught her how to be a part of a team and excel in time management as she balanced her busy athletic and academic schedules. “Playing soccer at TFS and Cardinal Gibbons gave me an even deeper connection to the schools,” says McGill. “There's really no feeling like representing your school.” One of McGill’s favorite memories while at TFS was traveling to Charlotte with her middle school basketball team to participate in the annual Shamrock Tournament. 

McGill’s love for soccer has now translated into impacting the next generation. She is currently in her second year as an assistant coach for the varsity women’s soccer team at Cardinal Gibbons. In this role, McGill says, “I love being able to mentor girls in the setting that gave me some of the best memories of my life. Plus, I get the privilege of coaching some TFS alumni as well.” Last year, McGill’s team won the 2022 NCHSAA 4A State Championship, which was the first time the program had won a State Championship since McGill was a senior on the team in 2013.

In addition to the academic, spiritual, and athletic foundations laid at TFS, McGill shares that many teachers mentored and cheered her on, such as Mrs. Cristina Leone Gautier, Mrs. Carolyn Moser, and Mr. Mike Watson. And another exciting aspect of her role as a coach at Cardinal Gibbons is that she gets to often see one of her favorite teachers from TFS, Ms. Amy Bradshaw, who is now a Spanish teacher at the high school.

As McGill reflects back on her time at TFS, she leaves some advice for students as they develop and grow at the school: “Take advantage of all the opportunities offered to you. The more you put yourself out there and try new things, the more amazing memories you will collect.”

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