Jessica O. Matthews, an award-winning innovator and entrepreneur, will deliver the address at Vassar’s 157th Commencement on June 6, President Elizabeth H. Bradley announced. Matthews, a Poughkeepsie native, is the Founder and CEO of Uncharted Power, a sustainable infrastructure company that helps cities turn their sidewalks into data centers to improve grid resilience, broadband connectivity, and mobility. The company recently partnered with Poughkeepsie to demonstrate the potential of this new technology.
“Jessica O. Matthews was born less that two miles from our campus, and the impact of her unique vision has been both local and global,” president Bradley said. “Today’s world needs fearless, unconventional thinkers, and Jessica’s message to our graduates is sure to be inspiring.”
Matthews’s career began in 2008 when she was a junior at Harvard University. For an assignment in an engineering class, she and a classmate invented the Soccket, a soccer ball that generates electricity when it is kicked around the field. She founded Uncharted Power in 2011 and since then, has shifted the company’s focus to building sustainable infrastructure platforms to help cities build a more equitable and sustainable future for its residents. Matthews is currently working on several projects with public and private organizations in the City of Poughkeepsie.
Matthews said she is looking forward to talking about her work to Vassar’s graduates this spring.
“In many ways, my growth as a founder and Uncharted Power’s growth as a world technology leader are inextricably linked to the City of Poughkeepsie,” Matthews said. “I was born at Vassar Brothers Hospital and attended Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie. And with Uncharted Power, I was lucky enough to find our first home in the City of
Poughkeepsie. Given all that we have received from this community, it is an honor to have the opportunity to return home and share, not only this moment but this movement, with the next generation of Vassar College luminaries.”The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Matthews is a dual citizen of the United States and Nigeria. The idea for the Soccket first emerged while visiting relatives in Nigeria. When the community’s electricity was interrupted and air-polluting diesel generators were used to keep the lights on, Matthews saw the need for better ways to generate power. Her invention led to an invitation to the White House by President Barack Obama to represent small companies for the signing of the America Invents Act in 2012.
Matthews has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Economics from Harvard University, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and is listed on over 12 patents and patents pending. She was selected as one of Fortune’s Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs, Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30, and Harvard University Scientist of the Year. She serves on the board of Scenic Hudson, a not-for-profit environmental organization that protects and enhances the natural, historic, agricultural, and recreational landscape of the Hudson Valley
Contact: Larry Hertz, firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-518-3098 (Vassar College)