Now Married, Dentist and Educator Were High School
Sweethearts at Pope
Ten years after high school sweethearts Paul and Angela (Huntenburg) Russell,
’01, graduated from Pope John Paul II High School, they have five degrees
between them and a deep gratitude for the education they received at Pope and
its “happy, healthy environment.”
Angela grew up in Boynton Beach and attended St. Mark Catholic School before
attending Pope. Paul grew up in Deerfield Beach and attended St. Joan of Arc
School in Boca Raton. Both are the youngest of their siblings who also attended
“It was nice to be a part of a family before I even got there,” Paul recalled.
“Pope was a very great fit for me on a lot of levels,” Angela said. “It had the
educational environment I was used to, and academically it was a challenging
school. I was able to take a lot of AP classes to prepare for college, and the
teachers were very caring people in a warm, small school.”
For Paul, the small size of the school allowed him to play basketball, football and
lacrosse, something he still appreciates. “Sports help you develop into a better
person and learn teamwork,” he said.
The Russells began dating the summer before their senior year at Pope, and
both attended Florida State University where they continued to date. Angela
earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, and Paul earned his in biochemistry.
After college graduation Angela applied for a school psychology program at
Lehigh University in Pennsylvania where she earned her master’s degree as well
as an EdS educational specialist’s degree. Paul was a five-hour drive away at the
University of Pittsburgh where he earned his D.M.D. degree in dentistry.
“The long distance relationship was a little rough because we were so busy with
our respective degree programs,” Paul said, “but we weren’t distractions to each
other, either. We were just kids when we got together, but we both wanted the
same things and had similar values and ideals. We shared a lot of respect for
each other and a true friendship as opposed to just a romantic relationship.”
After graduating from Lehigh, Angela moved to Pittsburgh and earned a master’s
degree in elementary education teaching at the University of Pittsburgh. She
and Paul were married in 2008. When Paul completed his degree in dentistry, he
began a one-year residency within the Navy, then was assigned to the USS
Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in Norfolk, Virginia. He is now serving as a
Navy dentist there for three years in exchange for a three-year scholarship the
Navy awarded him. Angela taught for a year in nearby Chesapeake before
giving birth to their daughter, Katie, last Thanksgiving.
Paul always knew he’d pursue a career in medicine. His father and other family
members are physicians, but Paul didn’t want the disruptions to his family life
that come with a doctor’s career.
“As a dentist, I can still have a profound impact,” he said. “In a short time you
can make a difference in people’s lives, and I thought that was pretty neat.
Researchers are making new correlations between oral health and overall health,
although it’s a bit of an uphill battle to convince the public. It’s so important to
get regular checkups to prevent or detect oral cancers, for example. Dentists
don’t just make teeth white.”
Angela said she would like Katie to attend a Catholic school.
“I’m more concerned with the all round development of my child and not the
emphasis on state testing,” she said. “For some families it’s not a financial
hardship to attend a private school, but my parents sacrificed a lot, and I’m very
thankful they did that for me and my sisters. I feel very blessed that my
teachers were good Christian people, which showed in their actions. I saw good
examples in my life that supported the values I support.”