From the West Coast to the East Coast and beyond, incoming students bring their personalities, interests, and dreams to Pensacola when they arrive at PCC. Some leave after graduation, accepting jobs in their home states, while others spread their wings and take their degrees to other countries. Still others find a home right here in Pensacola. These are just a few of their stories.
Loving My Neighbor—Pastor Mike Brown (’02)
“As a college student from Pennsylvania, Pensacola was definitely not home and not a place I thought would ever be home,” said Mike Brown, pastor of West Florida Baptist Church and administrator of West Florida Baptist Academy. “After being exposed to the area as a whole, you realize that this really is a great community to be a part of. I love the weather, the beaches, the friendliness of the people, and the small-town feel of the Pensacola area.”
When Mike began serving at West Florida Baptist as part of PCC’s pastoral internship program, he not only found the ministry he would join after graduation, he also found the girl of his dreams—the pastor’s daughter, Alana Stewart (’05). Together the couple and their children have embraced their calling to serve the Pensacola area, taking advantage of every opportunity to share Christ’s love.
West Florida Baptist stays involved in the community, from providing shelter during hurricanes to putting on dramatic productions to hosting community events. “Our church has hosted a Love My Neighbor day the last Saturday of August the past two years,” says Pastor Brown. “We wanted to host an event that brought everyone together instead of pushing us further away. It’s hard to love your neighbors if you don’t know them. The response has been great, and the relationships our church has built with the community are still growing.”
Living the Dream—Business Owners Luke (’04) and Sarah (’06) Keller
This artistic couple stayed in town for a plethora of reasons. “We fell in love with what Pensacola has to offer: the sunsets and sunrises are really beautiful, the beach is beautiful, the seafood market is fantastic, downtown offers history and beautiful architecture, a lot of exciting young businesses are popping up downtown, the dining scene is great, the art community is fun to participate in, and the cost of living is pretty affordable,” Sarah explained.
“My husband Luke and I own and work at Spike’s Printing, a specialty print shop located in downtown Pensacola,” said Sarah. “We’ve always had interests that lined up well with running a small, local business, and it’s a great way to be a Christian influence and example of Christ in our local community.”
The couple has enjoyed building relationships within other businesses through their work. “We print menus for some terrific young restaurants downtown. Because we get to know the chefs and they become more like friends than customers, we do favors back and forth with them,” Sarah relates. “Union Public House invited us to their soft opening a couple of years ago, and we were permitted to bring some friends with us; it was a really awesome dining experience. We are loyal fans now and have been back many times.”
“One day, George Artisan Bakery & Bistro, which is right across the street, baked chocolate cupcakes just for us,” Sarah said. “Our building had gotten hit by a car and it left a 2’ x 3’ hole. George’s wife could see it from across the street and had the pastry chef bake cupcakes just for us! It was super nice of them, as they had sold out of their awesome chocolate cupcakes earlier that day.”
Leading a Movement—Congressional Aide Sara Lefevers (’14)
“I have been interested and active in community and politics since age 9,” said Sara. “After college, I worked on staff at Abeka for two years. It was during those two years I decided I needed to get plugged in locally.” Eventually, Sara met then State Representative Matt Gaetz, and accepted a job with his campaign for U.S. Congress. After Gaetz won the election, Sara stayed on as assistant.
“In those interim months before we took office, the Congressman and I framed what we entitled the Faith Coalition Program, an active effort to pursue relationships with faith leaders, nonprofits, and community organizations,” Sara relates. “I have had the opportunity to be involved with other diverse organizations such as the Republican Executive Committee, Institute for Women in Politics, Impact 100, and Escambia Federation of Republican Women, and have had the privilege to work with the local pregnancy resource centers.”
“There is a unique collaboration among elected officials, agencies, the faith community, and business community to work together to advance the overall quality of life,” Sara says. “One of the things that stood out to my husband and me when determining Pensacola would be our forever home was the vibrant community life. Pensacola is extremely family-friendly, and there is always something to do! More importantly, we love the conservative faith and family values that drive this community!”
Lately, Sara has been working closely with A21 Pensacola, part of a global organization that raises awareness for and assists victims of human trafficking. In 2019, the group will open the first local home for recovering victims. “As Christians we are called to serve and to show Christ’s love. My experience shows the unique effort this community places on collaboration and working together to advance causes and love people,” she said.
Whether they come and stay to serve in a ministry, healthcare, politics, or business, local alumni plant their roots deep into the sandy beaches of Pensacola, investing in their community.