When reconnecting with our alumni, it has been incredible to see the faithfulness of the Lord throughout their journeys. While some of our alumni have been on their post-graduation journey for 10, 20, or 50 years, this month we connected with two recent alumni to hear about their experiences.
Gabrielle Vance’s Alumni Journey
Gabrielle Vance (Class of 2019) attended Denver Christian from elementary school until she graduated high school. She says that her time at Denver Christian helped her find her identity in Christ, grapple with hard questions, and find what her faith meant to her. Denver Christian’s emphasis on community across grade levels and through activities such as sports or faith communities is part of what helped kindle Gabrielle’s love for fostering community and connection–something she has carried into her adult life. In thinking about her time at DC, Gabrielle remembers a lot of laughter and joy, showing that sometimes, more than the “big moments,” the many small experiences of belonging that accumulate throughout our school experience make the largest impact. She says, “Things like Mr. Thunder, boat races, making pancakes at lunch, bubble soccer, and shooting rubber chickens (sorry Mrs. Bull!) made the years at DC so fun!”
Navigating college and career choices
After a year of studying biology at CU Denver, Gabrielle transferred to GCU where she will graduate this spring, majoring in psychology with a minor in biblical studies. After graduation, she plans to get a master’s degree in social work with the end goal of working as a child and adolescent therapist. While working as the Family Life and Connections Intern at Restoration Church for the past two summers, Gabrielle has learned to bring peace and restoration to those she works with. She notes, “Growing up is not easy, it is full of chaos, but God has equipped me to be a place of peace for the kids I disciple at church.” While Gabrielle doesn’t know what her end destination is yet, she knows that the Lord will continue to use her gifts for the kingdom.
“I have faith that God will use me for ministry no matter what my title is. I am trusting that through my future career, whether in ministry or therapy, God will use me as a demonstration of His love and overwhelming peace to the people I engage with.”Gabrielle Vance
Matthew Paintin’s Alumni Journey
Our second alumni, Matthew Paintin, graduated in 2020. When Matthew was diagnosed with tetraplegia, it was unclear what his future would look like. In high school, Matthew developed a passion for running. By the time he graduated, Matthew lettered four times, was a two-time Paralympic high school All-American, and had the honor of representing Team USA at the 2019 Paralympic World Junior Championships in Switzerland. After a historic season as an athlete, Matthew humbly reflected on the way that his coaches shaped the runner and individual he has become.
Because Matthew attended Denver Christian from the third grade on, he didn’t realize how much things had changed in his life until after he graduated. Matthew says, “You don’t realize how it’s changed until you’re out.” In college (first at CSU Pueblo and then Calvin College), Matthew realized how well he was prepared academically. He also realized how much the DC community, “genuinely cared about getting students to succeed.” Matthew says that while no one moment sticks out from his time at DC, his friends and community have shaped the person he is today.
Rising and Adapting to Each Challenge
Throughout his running career, Matthew has been stretched as an athlete–first by running in a large division amidst a strange running schedule during the height of the pandemic. After transferring to Calvin University, Matthew transitioned to running sprints. This was a big change for a distance runner but the challenge caused Matthew to adapt, not just physically, but mentally. After missing the Paralympics in Tokyo by just one spot on the team, Matthew persevered in his training. This year, he decided to take the spring semester off to focus on his running career–which paid off in spades. Matthew broke two world records in just a couple of months. (The photo above is him shattering a long-held world record in the 1500 meter this August.)
As a historic track athlete (before even graduating college), Matthew’s entire career is in front of him. Matthew reflects that “I’ve not figured out exactly what I want but I know the direction of where I want to go and who I am–I am more sure of myself.”Matthew Paintin
Matthew is excited to continue running and see how far he can take his running career, whether that is at a collegiate or professional level–or both! We are so excited to see how God continues to use Matthew and his grit as a testimony in the world.
Gabrielle and Matthew are incredible examples of why Denver Christian alumni give us so much hope for the future. Both Gabriella and Matthew have both allowed their doubts or changes to make them more confident in who they are. While these alumni’s careers are different, their resilience and humility stand out. The future is bright for Denver Christian alumni and students.