Turning “no” into a life of opportunities

 |   Arturo Lucatero

For me, it all started at my family’s cybercafe in Michoacán, Mexico. From time to time, my parents allowed me to manage the place, and I often found myself fixing someone’s computer.  Little did I know that this passion would lead me to fulfill my dreams.

The choice to study computer science came naturally, however, at that time, the only way to get such a degree was by moving to the U.S. Having grown up in Mexico and being so close to my family, the decision wasn’t easy for me or them, but deep down, we all knew it was the right one.

After moving to Oregon, I was motivated by my high school counselor, who I now consider my “second mom,” to apply for a scholarship and get the professional degree that I always wanted. Looking back, I remember thinking, ‘there is no way I’m going to get this scholarship,’ but I was wrong. This achievement gave me the courage to dream even bigger.

I never imagined that I would have a path of rejections ahead of me. In my first year of college, I was told that computer science would be too difficult and that I should consider studying something easier. Still, I was determined.

I began applying to internships and received so many rejection letters that I could have believed that I was wrong, but I refused to give up. Even Microsoft declined my first application, but this letter was a bit different— the recruiter shared tips and encouraged me to apply again, and I did.

For me, quitting was not an option. I had made a promise to myself and family when moving to the U.S.—that I would be the first person in my family to earn a degree. This and the love for my family kept me going. It paid off when, in 2015, I graduated from George Fox University with a B.S. in Computer Science and a job offer to join Microsoft.

If I had not challenged myself, maybe I would not have made it. Maybe, I would not be the Program Manager that I am today.

Now, it’s time for me to give back and help others walk the path that I did. I am proud to be involved in many NGOs, including “Degrees of Change,” the organization that gave me the scholarship, and “iUrban Teen”, which focuses on exposing underserved students to STEM. I want to ensure that more Latino students have the opportunities and resources needed to fulfil their dreams.

A word of advice? Persevere. When you receive a “no,” turn this into your next opportunity.

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