By Gino Terrell
Living life without limits and pursuing her passion is what Jenny Valdes does best.
Valdes is one of the six background dancers for Pitbull, famously known as “The Most Bad Ones.” The former Miami Heat dancer joined Pitbull’s tour last fall while keeping up with her 3.920 GPA as a student at Florida International University. With plans to graduate this May, sky’s the limit for Valdes, a Miamian who has followed her passion in dance while trying many things.
“I’ve just always tried to expose myself to different things and do the best that I can,” Valdes said.
Born and raised in Miami, of Cuban descent, dancing was always a hobby for Valdes. Although Valdes was involved in other activities such as student government, playing basketball and volleyball, she danced on the side. After learning the basics of dancing she joined “Junior Jam,” a program for kids to dance for NBA’s Miami Heat. After graduating from high school she made the official Heat dance team. Two years later, she danced for music artist Prince Royce who opened for Ariana Grande during her Honeymoon tour in 2015.
Along her journey there’s one thing that’s helped Valdes move forward with her dance career. And that’s goal setting.
“Goal setting has literally helped me stay on track and figure out what it is I want to accomplish,” she said. “If you don’t know the direction you are headed towards, [then] you don’t know what you are working towards.”
When she brought in the New Year on stage with “Mr. Worldwide” during “Pitbull’s New Year’s Resolution” on FOX, she experienced her goal come to fruition. New Year’s Eve 2014 she first worked at that event as a model with the goal to perform on stage. She did just that the following year with Prince Royce. Her next goal was to perform with “The Most Bad Ones” and after making the squad this past fall the rest was history.
“Being a goal oriented person really helps you to accomplish your long term vision and basically make your dreams come into reality,” Valdes said. “It means a lot for me to accomplish my goal, but this is not the end. It is only the beginning.”
While she’s moved through the ranks with her dance career, her main priority is and always has been school.
“Honestly, for me school comes first. My dancing is on the side,” said Valdes, who graduated high school with a GPA over 5.4 finishing top percentile in her class. “Education is key, knowledge is power; and from there is how you grow.”
Balancing college with her dance career is difficult Valdes admits, but “doable.” After performing in front of thousands on stage she spends her nights studying in her hotel room.
“When I’m on the plane I’m studying [and] trying to get Wi-Fi to do homework,” she said.
Although the balance may be challenging there’s someone that crosses Valdes mind that motivates her to continue and improve what she’s doing.
“The second my niece was born she made me see life from a different perspective,” she said. “Every time I wake up I want to try to be a better person and set an example for her to be a better person.”
Her niece has also made her want to be a role model, which is a role Valdes wants to play for other kids as well. Planning to graduate this May, afterwards she wants to work with kids to show them how they can pursue their passion and become successful.
“Kids are the future and if you don’t teach them who else will?” Valdes asked. My niece “made me realize that it’s not about me but what I’m going to leave behind as an individual. What can people learn from me? What can I do to make the world a better place?”
What keeps her living up to those expectations is a quote from Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Leading by example, the one thing she wants others to remember about her is how she lives limitless. Just as she demands high expectations for herself academically, she continues to devote the same energy in pursuing her passion in dancing and wants to inspire others to do the same.
“If you do what you love it’s not work,” Valdes said. “And if you are passionate about it not only are you going to help yourself and be happy, but you’re going to impact others while doing it.”