Cleveland and Highline HS Microsoft Xbox and Home of the Future tours

December 8, 2014

Hi All,


We had such a fabulous event yesterday at Microsoft for 40 high school girls.

Half of the group went on a tour of Xbox Studios and half went to see the Home, Office and Public Space of the Future! The girls were totally enthralled with the tours, and had such great things to say about the experience. They were grateful to get to see such incredible exhibits and knew how fortunate they were.

Then after the tours, Microsoft provides a beautiful lunch and an amazing panel of Microsoft women share their stories with the girls. They talk about how they got to where they are today. Also what were they like in high school, what obstacles did they have to overcome to get to where they are today. And of course they talked about their jobs and what they do. It was clear to everyone how much they love their careers and love working for Microsoft. It was truly a magnificent day.


We have people to thank of course!



A big thank you to the Coordinator of the entire event; Aparna Vishwanathan is the person who makes this day happen for us. She coordinates the volunteers, secures the room, the food, and every little detail in between. We are so grateful for her endless work and dedication to making these events amazing. Aparna is also Secretary for the IGNITE Board, and we are truly fortunate to have her. And cannot thank her enough for all she does.




Thank you to all of the Microsoft women who make this day so special. They guide the tours, and then join for the panel lunch and discussion. Each of these women are willing to be vulnerable and share their real story with the girls. It’s what makes this experience so relevant and valuable. The girls can see that the women were just like them, they went through a lot of things, did not have it easy, and had to work hard, but triumphed because they never gave up. It’s an amazing message and one that changes these girls lives forever. Thank you to the following women who shared their stories and answered the girl’s questions with care and such thoughtfulness.

Thank you to Rajamma Krishnamurthy, Director Microsoft IT,  Maria Defante, Sr Manager Digital Analytics, Vazjier Rosario, Sr Service Engineer, Brandi Arnold, User Experience Researcher, Candice Griffin, Operations Program Manager, Dana Baxter,

Sr. Service Engineer, Louise Bowman, Patent Attorney, Kylie Hurd, Program Manager, Karman Smails, Xbox User Experience, Gina Steele.

Thank you ladies, for being such great IGNITE mentors. You are truly IGNITE stars.



We want to thank last but not least, the amazing IGNITE teachers, who inspire girls each and everyday. They participate in IGNITE, because they care about girls education in STEM careers. They work extra hours, and volunteer more time and effort to make this kind of events happen.

We sincerely appreciate all of you so much.


Thank you to Bryan Gordon, IGNITE teacher, Computer Science Teacher and Video at Cleveland HS.

Thank you to Lisha Johnson, IGNITE teacher, Technology teacher Highline HS, and Girls Apps Club.

And the support of the following people in Highline schools to bring IGNITE and these kind of activities for the girls. Without such a great team, it could not happen!

Thank you to Julie Burr, Michelle Thomassian, and CTE Director Royce Badley.

And my apologies if I left someone out. There is a lot of support in Highline, and I might have missed someone! Thank you all!


Here are the comments from the girls survey forms. They always say it best. All of the comments are worth reading, so take some time and read all of the way to the bottom!


What I liked best was hearing about these amazing women’s stories. It was very fun.


What was so interesting I’ve heard today was about how different their backgrounds were and all of them were able to achieve their goals. Grade 10


The best part for me was being able to hear the women’s personal experiences which was very valuable for me. Grade 9


There was so much going on, that I am not sure I can pick one thing that was most interesting. There was so much that was interesting to me. I learned about video game programming, how psychology is linked to that, and about a lot of different careers in technology. Grade 9


I loved hearing the women’s stories.


The best part of the experience was the great advice. I learned how subjects tied together, that was very interesting to me. The background stories were amazing.

Women were told no, and had hard things happen to them, but they still made a way for themselves, it was very inspiring.


The best part was hearing about all of the experiences the speakers went through. It was really inspiring to hear. I liked seeing the Xbox special room where they test games and watch people.


Hearing their stories was the best part. Grade 10

The best part was hearing the women’s stories. And learning about the company. I learned that there are so many different types of jobs, and if you try really hard you can succeed. Grade 10


I learned that you can pretty much find something you would like to do at Microsoft. I liked hearing about all of the different jobs. I loved seeing the Home of the Future. Grade 9


What I liked about today’s event was that I went on a tour at Microsoft. I also liked how I heard stories from women and were inspired to keep going strong. I think the most interesting thing I learned today was to just step out of my comfort zone. Grade 9


The best part was the Q and A session. It was very motivational and it showed me how there are many paths and many, many ways I can make it happen. Grade 11


How many different jobs there are and how there is a job for everything and it is very needed.


I liked that everyone was very friendly and they explained everything very thoroughly. It was also interesting to learn about everything.

I learned about a lot of how the Xbox really is set up. I understand that you can get many different jobs here. Grade 9


I really enjoyed the tour and seeing all of the equipment and technology in the Microsoft buildings. The most interesting thing I heard was the stories from the women who work here. Grade 9


The best part for me was the speakers. They gave us such important information. The most interesting thing for me was that we should never take “no” for an answer. Always try to dodge that and go another way, Don’t give up! Grade 12

I learned that there are many jobs in the computer science field. Grade 9


The Storytime, Pizza, and Personal storytime with professionals, Flashy, fascinating, and tasty are what grabs attention after all. I wanted more time to talk to the ladies and wished we could have stayed longer. Grade 11


I loved hearing the background stories of the women who work here. I loved the future house and the really cool technology. Grade 9


I liked getting to hear everyone’s stories and learning about what it takes to get into the industry. It honestly feels a lot more personal this way. I also learned that you can change your mind and change careers too. Grade 12


I really liked the home of the future, It was an amazing opportunity and it was really cool. I learned you can go through terrible things and still succeed.


I loved the home of the Future.


The best part was learning about the different occupations of the women at Microsoft. Learning the hardships and experiences of the women, They are amazing and I can feel the hard work behind their words! It’s very inspirational, and they inspired me to keep going in my path to a technical degree. Thank you. Grade 12


I loved hearing about everyone’s stories. It was very inspiring to me. All of the technology we saw today was amazing. I was excited  to hear that if I struggle with math there is still hope for me. I learned that I need to develop, will, passion and curiousity. I look forward to all of the technology of the future. Grade 12


I loved the Microsoft Home of the Future. Also afterwards talking to the great women. These women inspired me to go into technology. They came from different backgrounds and I can relate to them. I am excited about the IGNITE program to do more activities and events to learn more about these careers. Thank you.  Grade 11



I learned to still have hope that I can do it. After hearing the women’s stories. Grade 10


I really enjoyed the Xbox tour. Seeing the process of them testing games and see what material they use. And just seeing all of the cool stuff they used. Also the panel, hearing the women’s stories, inspiring speeches about the women’s journeys, and advice. Hearing about the different jobs.Grade 10


The different majors you can take that goes to technology and the different jobs you can do with a computer science degree. How everything connects, and how you can use your strengths, and connect them to what you are passionate about.


I liked that I got to hear the women’s backgrounds and I know that it’s not easy, but if I propose to do it, I will achieve it.  The most interesting thing was hearing the women’s backgrounds. And stories.  Grade 11



The girls always say it best.

Thank you to everyone who made this day possible.

As you can see, this event has changed these girls’ lives.

Thank you for wanting to be a part of that extraordinary experience.


View the Cleveland High School Chapter page
View the Highline High School Chapter page