Christian Keen

When a rejection letter derailed his college plans, Christian Keen found a home at Santa Fe College, where he developed into a student leader and scholar. Christian is now a proud Gator, and Santa Fe College alumnus.

As a high school senior, Christian Keen had hopes of attending the University of Florida, only to be denied admission.

He could have gone to Auburn, where he was accepted, but the cost of out-of-state tuition dashed that option as well. Upon the recommendation of his high school counselor, Christian turned his sights to Santa Fe College, quickly realizing SF could be a direct inroad to UF and his dream of becoming a large animal veterinarian.

Now looking back, I'm actually glad UF denied me because it allowed me to come to Santa Fe College first.

Not only did Christian attend SF, he threw himself into his studies and extracurricular activities, graduating from SF in 2014 with a 4.0 GPA and the designation of highest honors. Christian was accepted to UF—his dream school—and is now a pre-vet major, on his way to his dream career.

"Being denied from UF made me really hungry to get in, and coming to Santa Fe helped build me into someone I really wanted to become."

Christian carries with him to UF the distinction of being the first SF student in its history to be named a Phi Theta Kappa All-USA team member, representing the top 0.0002 percent of community college students in the country. The All-USA team recognizes high achieving two-year college students who demonstrate an outstanding combination of academic achievement and community service. Christian was selected with 19 others from a pool of 1,700 students nominated by more than 800 colleges nationwide.

"If somebody just got denied from UF, I would tell them, 'don't give up—come to Santa Fe College.' The experience I've had here I wouldn't trade for anything."