A recent emigrant from Mexico, Lucatero had long dreamed of working in the computer industry, specifically with Microsoft. The initial plan was to continue working at his fast food job, graduate from high school and attend community college part time before transferring to a four-year institution.
It was then that his counselor suggested he look into scholarships. “I’d never heard of George Fox at that point,” he says. “But I was told about this Act Six program they had, and I thought, ‘Why not apply?’ I had nothing to lose.”
Nothing to lose, yet so much to gain. Fast forward four years: Lucatero, a 2015 graduate of George Fox with a degree in computer science, works at Microsoft’s world headquarters in Redmond, Wash., as an identity program manager, fulfilling his lifelong ambition to work at one of the world’s most prodigious computer companies. “Who knows where I’d be today if not for George Fox and Act Six,” he says flatly. “I may have still been on the path to get here, but I wouldn’t have been nearly as far down the road.
“Act Six opened a whole new world of opportunity for me. Not only did it provide for me financially, it provided a support system that allowed my cohort members and me to succeed. It literally changed my life.”
It was for students like Lucatero – Portland-area youth, many of them from a multicultural background, identified as strong leaders – that the Act Six leadership and scholarship initiative was introduced at George Fox in the fall of 2007. Core to the program – created by the Northwest Leadership Foundation and conducted in partnership with the Portland Leadership Foundation, an affiliate of Young Life – was the development of students who would lead on campus and return as “agents of change” to their home communities. Those accepted into the program are provided with a full-need scholarship to cover all their tuition and housing costs – a commitment to which the university designated $909,965 in 2015-16, an average of $36,399 per student for 25 students.
Ultimately, one of the primary objectives of Act Six is giving back to the communities from whence students came. For Lucatero, that means staying involved in iUrban Teen, a national program that focuses on bringing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to youth of color ages 13 to 18. Through the program, he’s traveled to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles to facilitate workshops on mobile apps development.
Additionally, last August he helped facilitate the iUrbanTeen Day at Microsoft, which invited 80 teens for a daylong STEM exploration event at the company’s Redmond campus. “It was truly special for me, because it brought together two organizations that I care deeply about and allowed me to share with the youth what Microsoft is like.”
And what possibilities may lie ahead.