One Florida college student's musical talents have helped him to make the incredible leap from a homeless student to a performer at New York City's Carnegie Hall.
University of West Florida student James Matthews entered the 2014 American Protege International piano and strings competition, and received an honorable mention along with the prize of a performance at the famed Carnegie Hall, NBC 5 reported. This accomplishment is all the more inspiring considering Matthews' difficulties along the path to success.
Matthews went to Florida Southern College after graduating high school, but he fell on hard times and was homeless for nearly a year and a half, according to Pensacola News Journal. He would sleep in his school's 24 hour piano studio until his teacher helped him.
"He found me sleeping in his studio and pretty much got me out of that situation, found me a different school to go to where I had a dorm and a roof over my head," Matthews told NBC 5.
Now continuing his studies at UWF, Matthews will graduate in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in music, according to Pensacola News Journal.
"I always had my piano, and it's always been my escape," Matthews told the outlet. "I decided if I never gave up it would get me through life, and it has. I don't know where I'd be if it wasn't for music."
James Matthews will be performing in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City on April 20.