“San Francisco State is a diverse place in thought and ethnicity.” Dr. Vincent Matthews’ time at San Francisco State University gave him exactly what he needed to get his dream job — head of the school district in which he was once a student. Page ContentVincent Matthews, Ed.D., was still in high school when, out of nowhere, he found the profession that would end up as his life's work."My love for teaching goes back to high school. I began tutoring a couple of friends on the football team — for completely selfish reasons, I have to say," recalls Dr. Matthews, who in May 2017 took on the role of superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). "They needed a C average in order to play football, and I wanted to be sure they were able to bring their grades up. Once I saw those I was tutoring conquer a skill they weren't able to conquer previously, I fell in love with teaching." Matthews attended Grattan Elementary School, Herbert Hoover Middle School and J. Eugene McAteer High School — all part of the very same educational system he now leads. From here, his path intersected often with the California State University: He earned his bachelor's, teaching credentials, master's and doctorate degrees at San Francisco State University. In fact, Matthews was part of the first cohort to graduate from the campus's doctoral degree in educational leadership. "The Ed.D. program at San Francisco State was rigorous and tough; it definitely prepared me for this position today," he says. Fifteen CSU campuses now offer the doctoral program.Working His MagicAs a child growing up in San Francisco, Matthews was captivated by the world of magic and would spend hours learning sleight-of-hand tricks, like getting a toothpick to "disappear" beneath a napkin. These days, he'll take time to share his tricks — which have gotten more sophisticated over the years — with kids at schools in the Mission District or North Beach. "I still get more of a kick out of my tricks than my audience does!" he laughs.That ability to effortlessly connect with students, faculty, administrators, and parents from all backgrounds is something he honed in part at the CSU, he says. "San Francisco State is such a diverse place in thought and ethnicity," adds Matthews. "It really gave me the opportunity to hear different points of view that I otherwise would not have been exposed to." And while the father of three has worked in school districts across the state — from Inglewood and San Jose to Oakland and San Diego — he has kept his focus trained on two goals: tackling the achievement gap among historically under-represented students and raising academic performance. In the 30 years since he first set foot in a classroom as a newly minted teacher, Matthews has had ample time to develop a clear idea of what it means to be a leader: "It's taking a group to a place they wouldn't be able to get to if you weren't there."