Aidan Lewis and Katie Quirk (Class of 2003)
Posted on September 26, 2023
It’s been 20 years since the Class of 2003 bid farewell to Clemes, ready to find their way in the world. Looking back, two of that year’s alumni – Katie Quirk and Aidan Lewis – talked with us about their very different experiences after school, and the memories they’ve carried with them from their time at Friends’. They also offered a few words of wisdom for current students, founded in two decades of life, love, ambition and adventure.
Charles Rawlings-Way | Assistant – Alumni Content
Beyond Bass Strait, beyond oceans
Aidan: After Friends’, I enrolled in Engineering at UTAS and fumbled my way through a degree in Mechanical Engineering. When I graduated, my partner and I moved to Gove/Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory for some remote tropical adventures. This truly was a wild place – and we made lifelong friendships in the tightknit and common-minded community. After this we bought a house in Lenah Valley back in Hobart – but I continued to work elsewhere in a fly-in/fly-out capacity, heading back to Gove, then to the Western Province in Papua New Guinea, then to central-west NSW, then drive-in/drive-out to north-west Tasmania.
Katie: I moved to Melbourne about a year after graduating, then started a Bachelor of Arts degree at Monash University in 2006, majoring in journalism and behavioural studies. Following graduation, I moved to San Diego in California and started my PR career as a publicist and communications/media specialist. After two years, I was well and truly missing home, so I moved back to Melbourne and worked in PR agencies until 2018. During these years in ‘agency-land’ I had the privilege of working with some amazing brands, businesses and people – including Paul Hogan, the Logies, Flemington Spring Racing Carnival, Caulfield Spring Racing Carnival, and the Dog Lovers Festival (Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane). After becoming a mum, I freelanced for nine months before launching my own PR consultancy: Katie Quirk Communications (which rebranded to MuseMaven PR) was my baby for almost four years.
Katie: I’m still in Melbourne and work in-house at Optometry Australia as a communications coordinator. I married my husband, Tom, in 2016, had our daughter Madeleine (Maddy) in 2018, and our son Lachlan (Lachie) in 2021. We also have a very cheeky, friendly and affectionate beagle named Lenny.
Aidan: With enough travel under the belt, I’ve settled down full-time in Hobart now, where I try to spend as much time with family and riding bikes as I can. I’m working as Technical Services Manager for TasPorts, and still enjoy some work travel around the state and to the islands. Emine Giizel (Friends’ alumni, Class of 2005)) took pity on me, and we married in 2013. We have an 18-month-old maniac son Ollie – plus a big dog called Trevor; a small dog called Harry Potato; a cat called Roger; and a horse called Rippa.
Memories of Friends’
Aidan: I remember all the time spent with the rowing crews, working hard and playing harder (almost every mischievous event seemed to involve Mike Stott – make of that what you will…) – and my teachers, because they all shaped me in positive ways, despite my general ratbaggery (sorry Steve Bunton! For the record, I always liked your classes). And all the friendships that I made, and still hold dear today. I think there were really good shared values across most of the student body, which contributed to having a sense of belonging and pride. Generally speaking, I think we’ve come out the other end a great bunch of people.
Katie: I remember skipping out on Gathering with Cam Teague, to walk down to the Renown Milk Bar for lollies – and English Literature with Karina Churchill. I’ve remained in touch with Karina for 20 years – she actually attended my wedding and my daughter Maddy’s first birthday party. And of course rowing (you can’t have gone to Friends’ and not remember rowing).
I think there were really good shared values across most of the student body, which contributed to having a sense of belonging and pride. Generally speaking, I think we’ve come out the other end a great bunch of people.
Advice from the field
Aidan: “Just send it!” That’s the short answer. The long answer is that you don’t need to wait for everything to feel 100% in place before taking that step: lean into it (whatever that may be for you) and just give it a go. Don’t be afraid of uncertainty, because great things can come from it. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, because you’ll be surprised how forthcoming it is.
Katie: The only constant in life is change, and that’s not a bad thing. Embrace it. Always practice kindness and try to remember that everyone has a story – take the time to listen. It’s never too late to redefine, reinvent or re-evaluate yourself and what matters most to you. Success is subjective: don’t let society’s construct of what achievement and accomplishment look like make you feel devalued or inferior. And for those of you who have found the High School years difficult, I see you…Once you’re out in the big, big world you’ll discover that if people are trying to bring you down, it just means that you’re above them.
It’s never too late to redefine, reinvent or re-evaluate yourself and what matters most to you. Success is subjective: don’t let society’s construct of what achievement and accomplishment look like make you feel devalued or inferior.