Alumni Spotlight: Felipe Cruz Salinas, Microsoft Software Engineer and Clubhouse Network Donor

Categorized: Alumni
Felipe poses with Seattle's Space Needle in the background

This alum’s computer programming career began in The Clubhouse

Felipe Cruz Salinas is a successful software engineer for Microsoft at their Bellevue, WA campus. For three years, he’s been working on Cortana, Microsoft’s artificial intelligence personal assistant. He primarily works on Cortana’s back end, supporting the platform that allows other partners and apps to interact with Cortana. He’s become an expert in software telemetry, working through the extensive logs and database that Cortana develops to debug, troubleshoot, and improve user experiences. He’s a software engineer in part due to his Clubhouse experiences. He says, “I wouldn’t have had internet access or computer knowledge until college if it wasn’t for The Clubhouse.”

Felipe first got involved with The Clubhouse Suba Compartir in Bogotá, Colombia in the early 2000s. The new Clubhouse opened up near his high school. His schooling took place in the morning and he was often home, free all afternoon. Felipe’s mother heard about the Clubhouse through her church group and suggested he spend some afternoons there.  As a young Clubhouse member, he along with his peers enjoyed experimenting with photo manipulation and internet access that they did not yet have at home. He says, “We learned so much and were able to teach each other. It was a real bonding opportunity.” Once he moved past his Photoshop phase, he picked up more skills he would later use in his current career. In The Clubhouse, he learned about robotics and programming and Adobe Flash. By the time he arrived at college, he’d already had an interest in and experience with computer programming.

We learned so much and were able to teach each other. It was a real bonding opportunity.

Felipe says The Clubhouse environment sparked his curiosity and desire to learn. He learned technical skills from others in The Clubhouse community but he also gained the ability to learn independently. He says that having that mindset as an early teen was very important in preparing him for college and his career in computer science where he would always be learning. After high school, he went to the National University of Colombia where he studied computer science and engineering and was a teaching assistant. Felipe learned the value of teaching others at the Clubhouse, a trait that he utilized in college and throughout his career. He was soon recruited by Microsoft when they visited the school.

Felipe donated to the Clubhouse Network through a matching grant at Microsoft because he attributes his pathway to college and career development to opportunities the Clubhouse presented.  Felipe credits The Clubhouse with giving him the knowledge he needed to go on to higher education. While a Clubhouse member, he received a Clubhouse-to-College/Career (C2C) Scholarship which helped him get a computer and study computer science. In 2008, he attended Teen Summit, a “life-changing experience” and his first time leaving Colombia. He says his Clubhouse experience was “game-changing” for him and his family.

If it wasn’t for the clubhouse, I would be a very different person.

If you’re a Clubhouse alum, tell us what you’re up to!