Prince Matthews Sr. (MPA ’20) was chosen to address nearly 8,000 graduating students from programs across the University of Pittsburgh today.
The second-youngest of 11 children, Matthews grew up in Pittsburgh’s Homewood neighborhood, an experience which galvanized his path to public service.
He would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science at Clarion University, before coming to GSPIA.
The summer before his senior year, Matthews interned for the Wilkinsburg-Vision 2020 Project, for which he promoted community efforts on social media, produced videos and built databases. He helped organize a celebration of long-time Wilkinsburg resident Henry Parham, the last surviving Black veteran of D-Day, which was reported on by CNN and local media outlets.
At GSPIA, he was awarded the Urban Affairs Fellowship upon admission. As a part of that fellowship, he worked for the Center for Metropolitan Studies, CONNECT (the Congress of Neighboring Communities), the Office of Student Services, and as a Graduate Student Assistant (GSA) for GSPIA faculty co-authoring research on transportation, regional governance, poverty, inequality, injustice, and black mobility in America.
“My experience here at GSPIA has been nothing short of amazing,” Matthews said. “One of the reasons why I chose GSPIA over some of the other top programs I was accepted to was because I could sense their passion to propel others. Also, no other program — in my opinion — had what I needed to get to get where I want to be in life.”
“By choosing GSPIA, I was able to get the best education the world has to offer, still run for office, start a business, and continue to be involved in my home community.”
GSPIA’s Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership helped cultivate his skills. Through its Leadership Portfolio Program, Matthews found himself on the board of the local Birmingham Foundation, a youth-focused, grant making foundation in South Pittsburgh.
Today, he earned a master’s degree in public administration. His studies focused on public and nonprofit management, program evaluation, strategic management, grant writing, public administration and leadership.
During his time at GSPIA, he reviewed grant applications, selected grant awardees and plunged himself into bettering hometown neighborhoods.
“It was a rigorous program, but it aligned with everything I wanted to do in life,” he said.
Matthews’ keen interest in politics led him to toss his own hat into the ring in last spring’s Pittsburgh City Council District 9 race. While Matthews eventually withdrew, he took away lessons from the experience.
Currently, Matthews is running his company, Viral Pyramid Marketing, where he creates branding materials and videos.
For him, the home front is busy too, as he and his wife, Raven, are expecting Prince, Jr. any day now, a younger sibling to his 5-year-old daughter Princess. Meanwhile, he awaits seeing if he is selected from 90 regional finalists for the prestigious White House Fellowship program. If chosen, applicants typically spend a year as full-time, paid assistants to senior White House Staff, the Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials.
“I applied because I seek to work with others who are just as passionate about public service as I am," Matthews said. " I (also) applied because I believe that my background will benefit society because typically people from my background never get the opportunity to work with the caliber of dedicated public servants that I would be fortunate enough to work with during the fellowship.”
He also is a consultant for Partner4Work and eventually wants to create a local Green Collar Jobs Training Program.
Of his work, Matthews says: “Anything to help people get out of poverty, anything involving community development and empowerment, I just want to do that for the rest of my life.”
Watch the the University’s full graduation ceremony here.