“After Valley” highlights select Valley Christian alumni of all ages, from our first graduating class of 1986 to our most recent graduates.
Austin ‘05 & Alicia (Lewis) ‘04 Gifford
This “After Valley” profile was originally posted in April 2017.
There are more than 100 alumni happily married to another alumnus from VCHS. In fact, as of 2017, approximately 6% of our alumni are married to another VCHS alumnus, including Austin ’05 and Alicia ’04 Gifford.
Immediately after Valley I took a break from school for a couple years so I could work and figure out what I wanted to do. I then started my college career with hopes of obtaining a medical degree. I graduated from Arizona State in 2012 with a BS in Animal Physiology and Behavior. I then attended veterinary school at Ross University in the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, and completed that degree at Iowa State University. We are now back in the valley of the sun, and I am practicing at Family VetCare of Mesa. I love my job as a veterinarian.
Alicia: What did you do after Valley? Where did your life take you?
Austin and I got married two summers after I graduated from Valley. I was a student at ASU at the time and later graduated with a BS in economics. I worked at a charter school for a few years before moving to St. Kitts for Austin to attend veterinary school. Our time on the island was quite an adventure, but after becoming pregnant with our son, Landon, I was excited to move back to the states and closer to family. We moved to Iowa for a year, which was beautiful but much too cold for me, and then back to Arizona in 2014. During that time I earned a Masters in applied economics from Johns Hopkins. Our daughter, Nora, was born in 2016. Landon’s now 2 and Nora is 10 months, and I’m enjoying this season as a stay-at-home mom.
What kind of a relationship did the two of you have while you were at VCHS?
Our older sisters knew each other, so we were introduced through them when Austin started his freshman year at Valley. We were friends for about a year. Alicia followed Austin into joining cross country and track, where we got to know each other better. We then started dating during Austin’s sophomore (Alicia’s junior) year, and have been together ever since!
Tell us what life looks like now (work, family, church, etc):
Alicia currently stays at home with Landon and Nora. Austin works at a private veterinary practice in Chandler called Family Vet Care. We’ve been attending Redeemer Bible Church in Gilbert since moving back to the valley. We love to run, hike, and be outdoors as a family.
While you were at VCHS, which teachers, coaches or classmates had the biggest impact on you?
Honestly so many teachers come to mind! Mr. Kuiper, Mr. Streeter, Mr. Nelson, Ms. Jackson, Mr. Schanaker… these teachers pushed us to reach our full potential both in and out of the classroom. We knew they cared about us. And they prepared us for some of our tougher courses in undergrad.
What’s one lasting memory you have of VCHS?
Austin would say winning the state championship in cross country his junior year (2003). Alicia would probably also say her memories from cross country.
Do you have any advice for current students?
I (Alicia) was out of my comfort zone when I first arrived at Valley, and wasn’t sure I even wanted to stay. But I am so glad I did. I would have never met Austin, never learned to enjoy running, never had the opportunity to get involved like I did at Valley. We both treasure the friendships we made and the education we received during our time there. High school is such a unique experience in life, and we hope you are enjoying your time at VCHS! !
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