Arturo Lucatero, Act Six alum and Degrees of Change board chair, has always loved computers. A first-generation Mexican American and first-generation college graduate, his dream was to work at Microsoft—a dream he has accomplished for the last eight and a half years.
There were a lot of people who opened doors at different stages to help him get where he is today.
Arturo was born in Texas and grew up in Uruapan, Mexico, where he did most of his K-12 schooling. But as a teenager he started thinking about other learning opportunities. “I was always interested in computers,” Arturo said, “and I knew if I wanted to be able to focus on computers, it’d probably be best if I studied in the U.S.”
Arturo had family in Portland, Oregon. His cousin Ricardo “Rica” and his uncles invited Arturo to live with them. At first, Arturo’s mother did not want to let him go. But she eventually agreed.
“For me, that was one of those pivotal moments where a door was opened. It was opened by my mom who allowed me to leave. And it was also opened by my cousin Ricardo and my uncles and the rest of my cousins who allowed me to come and live with them.”
So, at 16 years old, Arturo moved to Tigard, Oregon. The next big door to be opened was shown to Arturo by a high school advisor and mentor, Mrs. Rudyane “Rudy” Rivera-Lindstrom. She met Arturo on his first day at Tigard High School while he was taking an English placement test and, over time, helped him adjust to and navigate the American school system.
By junior year, Arturo was working at Burgerville and had loose plans for how to pursue his love of computers. After graduating high school, he figured he would continue working in food service while attending Portland Community College to study something computer related.
“And I remember Mrs. Rudy flat out saying, ‘No, you’re not doing that. There’s scholarships. There’s someone who will pay for you to go to college.’ It hadn’t even crossed my mind. So I was like, okay. I’ll look into it.”
“During this time, my dad was in jail. And he was the first person that called me, I want to say within 30 minutes of me getting the envelope. He was really excited. Then five minutes later he called and said, ‘Can you tell me that again? I want to make sure I’m not dreaming.’ And so that for me was a pretty big deal.”
Act Six covered his college expenses, but Arturo still needed to pay for summer expenses. “Somewhere along the way I learned about internships, and I was like huh maybe I could do that,” Arturo said. Everyone told him internships were only for college juniors and seniors, especially in computer science, but he decided to try anyway.
Arturo applied for 50 internships as a college freshman. In some cases, no one responded. In others, he got close to getting an internship, but not quite. It was down to the wire and Arturo had just decided to return to Burgerville when he got a call from David Gatis at Intel.
“David was another instrumental person that opened a door for me to move from being in school to really understanding what the professional setting would be. I had a great experience that summer at Intel … And then at the end of the three months, David said, ‘Hey, we still need some more help. Would you consider extending it to a year?’”
I know that many, many doors have been opened for me along the way.
There was a second person who was instrumental in Arturo’s transition to the professional world. Among those 50 initial internship applications, one was received by a woman at Microsoft named Erin. She kindly emailed Arturo, said he was not quite ready, but encouraged him to study computer science and apply for an internship at Microsoft again next year.
“I hadn’t actually declared computer science as my major. I had declared information systems. Why? Because I didn’t know if I had what it took to do computer science. So I was like, okay, if Microsoft says so, I’m going to become a computer science person.”
The following summer, as a college sophomore, Arturo applied for and was offered a Microsoft internship. That first Microsoft internship turned into a second Microsoft internship, and then a full-time job out of college as a product manager when Arturo graduated. He has been working at Microsoft ever since, averaging a promotion every 12-18 months.
Today, Arturo is a principal product manager at Microsoft. He is engaged to his long-time partner, Tania. They live in Los Angeles with their two cats, Token and Eva, and their dog, Sol. He is still very much connected with Mrs. Rudy, who he considers to be family.
“I know that many, many doors have been opened for me along the way and I wouldn’t have been able to do it by myself,” Arturo said. Eventually, he wanted to give back and help open doors for others. “That, for me, was where it really made sense to step onto the Degrees of Change board.”
Arturo was invited to join the Degrees of Change board in 2015 by founder Tim Herron. He has been on the board for the last seven years and became board chair in 2022. “I think what sets Degrees of Change apart is that we always have community in mind, and we put a lot of emphasis on building up communities as we build up young leaders.”
“This is a great time for students to really understand what it is that they want and to be able to advocate for their needs,” Arturo said. “Because there are people and organizations who will support them—like people supported me—and who will help make it possible for them to achieve those dreams.”
Written by Sharon Ho Chang, Communications Director
Featured image: Arturo and his fiancée, Tania, on a recent trip to Napa Valley. (Photo courtesy of Arturo Lucatero)
Sign up for our newsletter for monthly updates and ways to get involved.