By Nafisa Hossain
Senior Matthew Nelson has very diverse interests ranging from engineering to theater and already has great achievements in both fields.
Nelson’s interest in drama began when he attended church growing up. His church produced plays and short skits that Nelson often acted in with his friends. However, it was not until he met drama teacher Stuart Fingeret that he began to consider acting professionally.
He first starred in the school’s production of “The Crucible” as Reverend Parris and in the school musical “Urinetown” as Officer Lockstock. Since then, Nelson has been cast to play Jean Valjean in the upcoming performance of “Les Misérables.”
“My favorite part of acting is the people on stage with me. Acting has given me the opportunity to meet and become friends with a diverse community or inspirational talented people who all support one another. The actors I’ve interacted with due to my interest in drama and theater are like family to me and I will always love that aspect of acting the most,” Nelson said.
In addition, Nelson has received opportunities outside of school to showcase his talent such as being cast as the lead in a music video.
In November 2015, Nelson filmed in ASHES The Chosen’s music video produced by SmG Music Team. The song will be shown in a mini-documentary film on MTV in the coming months which gives young African American males the opportunity to have self-respect and self-actualization. The video advocates recognizing one’s own abilities as an individual and calls them to share their gifts with the world. SmG Music partnered up with the Obama Administration’s “My Brother’s Keeper,” a community initiative which evolved into a national operation uplifting the prospects of young men of color by implementing successful mentors in their lives to teach them how to surpass ethnic barriers.
“I was very thankful to have the opportunity to be cast as the lead in the music video as ASHES the Chosen is a very talented musician and his album was ranked in the top 25 in the world,” Nelson said.
Although Nelson has a great interest in drama and theater, he wants to focus on majoring in engineering in college, though he also plans to minor in acting.
His interest in engineering began at a young age when he rode a plane for the first time at the age of five. As he noticed the bright rays of the sun peaking through clouds and transforming the sky into an array of beautiful colors, Nelson felt a sense of serenity and appreciation for the sight he saw outside the plane window. He felt inspired to be able to bring another child to have the same experience as him through aeronautical and mechanical engineering.
Last summer, Nelson had an internship with the city of Los Angeles’ Summer Introduction to Engineering and Sciences (SITES) program which was focused on science and engineering. In the program, Nelson pitched an idea about improving desalination plants to one of the head engineers. The engineer was so impressed with Nelson’s idea of filtering in microorganic bacteria to consume residual brine that he invited Nelson to speak at City Hall on behalf of the program.
Nelson was nominated by astronaut Buzz Aldrin to receive the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists Award of Excellence in Boston in June due to his “academic achievement, leadership potential, and determination to serve humanity in the field of science and technology.”
“My favorite part about engineering is probably failing, not only because it keeps me humble but because it serves as a stepping stone to success. From failing I’m able to grow as a critical thinker and approach similar issues from various perspectives, ultimately growing as an engineer and as a person,” Nelson said.
This spring, Nelson will also be participating in the Science Congress in Boston to discuss new ideas that will solve future and contemporary issues relating to the environment and technology with Nobel Prize laureates and science prodigies that have vastly improved life today.
“What I learned in drama was translatable to everything I did both in and out of school. Drama sharpened my skills and developed new ones altogether. With the skills I learn in drama I can become a fluid engineer whose creative mind will innovate solutions to contemporary and future issues the world faces in the field of aerospace, while the skills I learn in engineering will mold me into a focused performer with unparalleled patience and inventive ideas. Drama was the defining factor in my life, and engineering will allow me to build on top of that factor to become someone greater,” Nelson said.