SF to UF: Rafa Hossain’s Gator Dreams

SF to UF: Rafa Hossain’s Gator Dreams

Santa Fe College graduate and University of Florida student Rafa Hossain looks in the distance amid a nature setting.

May 27, 2024 – Rafa Hossain knows her life would have been different if she hadn’t attended Santa Fe College on her path to the University of Florida. Like many others, she is living her dream, a dream that, like for many, was nurtured by family.

Rafa grew up surrounded by a large family, including her identical twin. Despite their encouragement, seeking a college education proved daunting.

“When it came to pursuing my college career,” she said, “I was pretty intimidated, especially since my twin sister and I are first-gen students.”

A first-generation college student is someone whose parent(s) or legal guardian(s) have not obtained a bachelor’s degree. First-gen students pave the way as the first people in their family to pursue a four-year college or university degree.

“And so, it was tricky because I didn’t have a lot of guidance,” Rafa said, “but I think once I started making the first few decisions and just going for it, it worked out smoothly for me.”

Things were tough in the beginning. While in high school, Rafa heard great things about the University of Florida. The seed planted, she decided she wanted to move from sunny South Florida to Gainesville. She applied to UF, but was among the 70 percent of applicants turned away each year. UF’s rejection devastated Rafa. Her future quickly became uncertain.

“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do,” she said. “And I thought that journey would be over and that I would have to settle with schools near my hometown. I thought I wouldn’t be able to experience a new journey or a new environment until I heard about the alternative of being a transfer student. And so that’s when I looked into SF.”

Santa Fe College graduate and University of Florida student Rafa Hossain wears a graduation cap and gown while facing a building.

Rafa’s sister researched other options as well and learned about first-generation student support. At SF, first-generation college students find themselves surrounded by faculty and staff who are prepared to provide the guidance necessary for success.

The biggest factor in Rafa’s decision, however, was affordability. Santa Fe College offered a more cost-effective option, especially since both Rafa and her sister were likely to attend the same institution.

The future brightened when the sisters enrolled at SF. Rafa and her sister learned to adapt to their new environment, successfully taking classes and participating in extracurricular activities. Santa Fe College’s welcoming and warm energy made the transition easier.

Rafa also mentions that the smaller class sizes contributed to her positive experience, saying, “There’s a really good ratio between classmates and professors. I had a pretty close relationship with them, and it was very active and engaging for me. They would basically encourage us to ask them questions and ask for advice. And I think that made me more comfortable with asking for help.”

Santa Fe College graduate and University of Florida student Rafa Hossain holds her arms wide in front of a sign that reads, "University of Florida Performing Arts."

Through a chance opportunity at SF, Rafa discovered her career ambition in dentistry.

Then came the day Rafa turned UF’s no into a yes with Santa Fe College’s help. She enrolled in UF’s pre-dental program with the hope to apply to their dental school upon completion.

“I would like to continue to dental education at UF because UF has been my dream school.”

Learn how you can get into UF: