Growing up playing the cello and liking video games doesn't earn most young boys too many friends. Vincent Matos was no exception. The oldest son of David and Cynthia Matos, two high-achieving professionals who called Los Angeles home, he shouldered the burden of his parents' heavy expectations with a healthy side of guilt, which they happily provided on a regular basis. Both attorneys, not a penny was spared in making sure that children were given the best of what they could afford. Private school (Harvard-Westlake), summer camp (Pali Adventures), tutors (whatever promising UCLA student they could wrangle), you named it, they had it. It wasn't a rough childhood by any means, and Vince never actually felt bullied or outcast. He just didn't have much of a place among his peers. Vince liked the few friends that he had, and he could hang with his younger sibling if he really wanted company.
He did well in school without much effort, didn't cause trouble outside of the classroom, and he seemed to be shaping up into a good kid. His parents didn't think that was enough, though. Why didn't he have more friends? Why wasn't he invited to more birthday parties? They turned to the community for solutions, and at the advice of one of his mother's colleagues, Vince was forced to join the local soccer team.
What started out as a weekly game of magnet ball would take Vince through competitive club soccer and eventually, a starting spot on his high school team. He excelled both on and off the field and continued to find academic success all throughout middle and high school, with a laundry list of extracurriculars that balanced out the long string of As he brought home with each report card: three year starter for his high school soccer team, four year starter and two-time captain of the lacrosse team, Model UN vice president, captain of H-W's robotics team, first chair cello in the orchestra, valedictorian of his graduating class, the list went on. He quickly became a well-known face around campus, though he was never quite comfortable with the attention.
Graduating at the top of his class from a prestigious prep school and with a long list of accomplishments meant that Vince had his choice of colleges. To the disappointment of his parents, he decided on the University of Washington in Seattle, who had also scouted his athletic skills. With an offer to play college lacrosse and the opportunity to be closer to home than all of the Ivy League schools he was supposed to choose from, he was eager to pack his belongings and head north. After taking a smattering of courses all over the place in his first year, he realized that he found science truly interesting, and soon enough, he found it more fun and exciting than racing up and down the pitch. He chose to quit after his freshman year with no looking back. It took another quarter for him to declare his major and minor in bioengineering and digital arts, respectively. The rest of college went by in a blur, and he graduated from UW in June 2010.
Unclear on what exactly he wanted to do after graduation, Vince moved back to Los Angeles a few months after graduation to look for work. A healthy dose of nepotism landed him a job as an assistant in a neuroscience lab at UCLA. He was faced with new challenges and continued to learn, soaking up as much knowledge as he could as fast as he could from his new peers. He enjoyed the environment and the intellectual curiosity, and he became comfortable in the lab fairly quickly. Three years later, he realized that he was a little too comfortable, and that he needed to get out of his aimless wandering at the lab and his dingy Silver Lake apartment. He began a research project of his own in an attempt to figure out his next step. Obvious to everyone but Vince himself, his next step seemed to be graduate school. After a little bit of soul searching, endless applications, and some very intense GRE study sessions, Vince found himself with a small handful of offers to join various graduate programs around the country. Though staying on the best coast was awfully tempting, Vince knew that he needed to take a leap of faith and decided to move east, where he was offered an opportunity to study biomechatronics as part of MIT's Ph.D. program in media arts and sciences. He moved to the Boston area in 2014 and is now two years into his program, where he happily tinkers his days away and serves up beer and liquor by night.