Hack the Hood believes in highlighting the young people who have brought their skills and passions to our program to inspire others. We're profiling a different young leader each month to share their journey through Hack the Hood and beyond, with Matthew being our August feature.
1. What made you decide to join Hack the Hood (HtH)? When did you start with HtH?
I found out about HtH back in 2014 while at UCLA while attending a hackathon hosted on campus. At that event, I met Bay Area organizations like UC Berkeley, Dropbox, among others, and one associate told me about a development program called “Hack the Hood.” I subscribed to the mailing list, despite being physically in LA, with the promise that should I ever move to the Bay, I would make every effort to be a part of the Hack the Hood program. Fast forward, 4 years later and wishes really come true.
I was fortunate enough to join HtH because I believed in its mission to increase the representation of POC in the tech and corporate world. I didn’t get much coding or computer exposure while in school but I had the dreams and aspirations of being a part of the tech community. I then was selected and joined the Fall Tech Prep cohort in 2018.
2. What did you learn that was unexpected? Was there anything that surprised you about the program?
Many things were new and unexpected. I loved the age diversity of the program and the many different goals of my cohort and the HtH staff too. It really helped put things into perspective for myself and somewhat acts as an informal mentorship program — tons of people always willing to help you out, and you willing to help others.
3. What has your journey post- Hack the Hood looked like?
Since HtH I still see and interact with folks from my cohort and the staff who have become friends and awesome sources of support. I currently work at Capital One in SF as a Tech Product Manager and continue to make my way into more specialized areas within tech, which is an incredible feeling.
4. What do you do for fun?
I’m fairly spontaneous for the most part, so I find enjoyment in many things and at random times. One of my passions is perfumery. In my free time, I am starting my fragrance company, making perfumes and colognes for all, and I aim to launch fully before the end of the year. It feels like a long time coming and I’m excited to have a startup of my own in an industry that could really use the diversification and youthfulness.
5. What are your favorite foods?
I have no favorite dish, however, my absolute favorite foods are Thai, Indian, Italian, and Mexican. There have so much flavor and spice, you can’t help but love them all.
6. What are three places you enjoy visiting in the Bay Area and beyond?
I love being around Lake Merritt here in Oakland, I really like Hayes Valley area in the city, and for a little bit farther out, I like a good break in Half Moon Bay area for views, beach, and peace.
7. Who are your top music artists?
Favorite artist: Drake. Other artists I am a huge fan of include: Rihanna, Rico Nasty, Roy Woods, Nicki Minaj, Kali Uchis, Smino, Ari Lennox, Kacey Musgraves, Amy Winehouse, and honestly the list can go on and on.
8. Who do you follow on insta?
I follow close friends, awesome strangers who piqued my interest, a few of my favorite artists, and a healthy dose of my favorite designers like Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabanna, and YSL. I have no “favorite” profile though. Feel free to follow my perfume line @matteoparfums - we'll be launching soon!
9. Where’d you grow up? What do you like about the Bay Area?
I’m a true Southern (California) Gentleman. I was born and raised for many years in the OC, then moved to LA for a few years, finally settling in the Inland Empire (IE) in a city called Moreno Valley. I consider the IE “home.” What I love about the Bay Area that I don’t get back in the IE is great public transportation, manageable weather usually, and the wonderful variety of food options like Eritrean, Burmese, Peruvian, and more.
10. What’s something you’d like to see change in Oakland? What do you want your contribution to that change to be?
I think Oakland has held its own during the giant tech transformation over the years. I know it’s undergoing gentrification and development, however, the essence (and the people) of Oakland are remaining steadfast and is vocal about unnecessary or harmful change. Which is beautiful to see. It definitely extends from the city’s strong social justice and equity history. I want to be sure that Oakland continues to be “The Town” and a hub for the people, by the people. I’m inspired and hopeful to give back to the city that adopted me (as I like to put it) and reinvest in our developmental programs and general beautification projects. A big stretch goal of mine is to create an accelerator and incubator space for non-tech companies right here in Oakland. Though I love tech I also understand that there are many other passions, fields of interest, and areas that can benefit from the right resources, funding, exposure, and scaling such as: food/culinary, art/design, agriculture, to name a few.
11. What do you appreciate about today’s technology?
I appreciate the ways it has expanded knowledge and information. I appreciate how it has made the world feel a little less disconnected, when used strategically and properly. Many opportunities, bits of news, and general discussions have been brought to my attention only because of modern technology.
12. What type of technology do you wish you had, but hasn’t been invented yet?
Because my mind is always on food, I would love to have an “instant food” machine to whip up anything I tell it to make. I’d also like an automatic way for clothes to clean, dry, and hang themselves. Lastly, teleportation would solve so many problems.
13. What would be your dream job? What do you want to be when you grow up?
My dream job is what I’m currently pursuing: to be a famous, notable Perfumer with a very successful international company and brand. To be able to be a part of people’s lives and daily routine, be a part of people’s memories when they smell someone or something with one of my scents, would be an incredible feat. If I had to be like someone as I get older, I want to be like Tony Stark (my favorite Marvel comic character and superhero). Lovable. Intelligent. Humorous. Playboy. Wealthy. Philanthropist. Daring.
Photography by Christine Cueto.
What piece of technology do you rely on the most? Apart from my phone, for me, it’s my laptop. When I got my first computer as a college student, it was like growing another limb. I relied on it completely, working on my assignments at any (and every) time of day. Being able to write essays in my apartment in the dead of night, once all my other responsibilities were over, gave me the freedom to be successful in school.
This week, twenty Hack the Hood students will take home laptops of their own. Our “Bootcamp” graduates have spent the past six weeks learning tech skills, working hard to build websites for local small businesses. Their hard work has paid off! Each student receives their own computer once they graduate, which will support them as they continue their learning journeys. Our students go on to continue their education, join other boot camps, and get jobs in tech. We’re so excited for you, class of Summer 2019!
Please join us in thanking Twitter for the generous donation of 40 laptops, which makes this program possible. Thank you for your commitment to our young people!
Danielle, Development Director
Hack the Hood Blog
News items and musings on tech inclusion, youth development, buying local and more.