Ken the Encourager

ST. PETERSBURG — When he is “Ken the Encourager,” no one truly knows him. Not expressively surprising, because at these times he doesn’t know himself.  Ken the Encourager is energetic, outgoing, mingling in the crowd. There’s still not much talking, but lots of communication. Ken is funny, inspiring, encouraging, expressive and motivating.

But Ken is the alter ego. Let’s allow the young man behind the costume to introduce himself.

“Hello, my name is Keenan Rogers. I am 18 years old and live with my two parents, Donna and Michael Harris along with my three younger siblings. I have been a resident of Florida for my entire life and enjoy this sunshine state.”

Keenan enjoys his downtime by occasionally going outside, watching TV, playing video games or helping cook for the house. His family holds strong spiritual beliefs and attends church every Sunday.

“My faith is I believe in Jesus Christ.  I’ve become stronger in my faith do to influential people in my life that have taught me more about Jesus,” he stated.

Keenan graduated from a private, non-traditional high school named Community Christian School of Five Oaks. The classes are smaller, which makes for more one on one instructional time. The curriculum is designed for self-paced study.

He finished his high school requirements ahead of schedule and had the benefit of relaxing weeks before graduation day.

“I was so happy for Keenan,” said Donna Harris, the proud mother and singer/stage performer Sojourner. “He worked extremely hard to get to graduation. I was really surprised when he told me that all of his work was completed. He was dedicated to his goal, and that works for me.”

Keenan faced several challenges during his high school days. Things just didn’t come quite as easily for him.  In his junior year, he was faced with a degenerative spinal condition that required back surgery.  His inner drive brought a speedier than expected recovery. The biggest challenge he faced was staying focus and making friends.

When he’s not Ken the Encourager, Keenan is quiet and stays to himself. Not a good blend for a small environment school that stresses group participation. Another challenge.

“I overcame my challenges by reminding myself of the bigger picture, and that was to graduate,” he said. “I wanted to make my family and everyone who wanted me to achieve greatness, proud.  I strive to be the best. So, I overcame my inability to make friends by opening my mouth more and socializing with more of my peers daily.”  Perfect!

Keenan plans to attend Pinellas Technical College where his intended field of study is culinary arts.  The next character he will play will be that of a personal chef or maybe a successful restaurateur.

“I hope once I’m out of college I will have a successful career in the culinary arts,” said Keenan. I can cook many different dishes for people of all ethnicities. I just want to make my family proud and continue to be my absolute best as I enter this new chapter in my life.”

Whether it’s Keenan or Ken the Encourager, he is committed to doing well in college and making people fat with his delicious fare.

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