Valencia dance student Matthew-Tyler Nelson hasn’t led an easy life. With an absentee father, he became the man of the house early on and his dreams of becoming a professional dancer were met with contempt from his mother, who firmly believed in the family’s Jamaican tradition of conforming to strict gender roles. But, as Valencia Dance Professor Lesley Brasseux Rodgers explained, some people are born to dance — and Matthew-Tyler is one of them.
Like so many Valencia students who overcome the odds to pursue their passions, Matthew-Tyler has found hope within Valencia’s walls and a renewed vigor for achieving his dreams — no matter how difficult the journey. Today, the 27-year-old student works night shifts as a nurse before hitting the dance floor at Valencia, often getting little sleep but always finding new inspiration to do what he was born to do.
Click here to read his story and watch a video about his passion for dance in the Orlando Sentinel .