Visual Impairment Doesn't Stop Student From Pursuing Her Dreams

Published: 10/02/2020

Kristen Keene hasn’t let her visual impairments get in the way of her education or from pursuing her dream - a career in vocal performance.

“I was born with a condition called retinopathy of prematurity. This is a disease of the eye affecting premature babies generally having received neonatal intensive care, in which oxygen therapy is used due to the premature development of the lungs,” said Keene. “I am completely blind in my right eye, and I have little vision in my left eye.”

Keene’s visual impairment prevents her from playing certain sports and brings about many challenges, but she focuses on the positive aspects.

“Although my life is different from other people, I am still just a college student who loves to learn, hang out with friends and have a good time,” she said. “I also love to sing.”

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Keene was recently inducted into the Barbershop Harmony Society, an organization that provides music experiences for kids, adults and seniors through camps, conventions and retreats. She is also a member of the Recruits Chorus.

“When I am singing with them, I don't feel like I have a disability, I feel like a normal girl,” Keene said.

At St. Charles Community College, students with disabilities of any kind are encouraged to visit Disability Support Services, which coordinates support services that provide students with equal access to the college. Keene uses accommodations like magnification, zoom text and large print for her courses at SCC.

“All of the people in the DSS office made me feel comfortable with asking for help or any other accommodations I might require,” said Keene. “They also took the time to understand me and my accommodations such as magnification, zoom text and large print.”

After SCC, Kristen plans to attend Lindenwood University to continue pursuing a degree in vocal performance.

“When I first arrived at SCC, I was a little nervous as to how I would navigate college life. But with excellent faculty and staff by my side, along with friends and family, I would say I am doing quite well now.”

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