On being American: Journalist, filmmaker--and undocumented immigrant--Jose Antonio Vargas to speak at Rowan

On being American: Journalist, filmmaker--and undocumented immigrant--Jose Antonio Vargas to speak at Rowan


What does it mean to be an American?

Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, filmmaker--and undocumented immigrant-- will pose that question at Rowan University during “Define American: An Evening with Jose Antonio Vargas” on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. in the Eynon Ballroom of the Chamberlain Student Center, 201 Mullica Hill Road, Glassboro. The evening is free and open to the public.

As battles over immigration and immigrants’ rights continue to make national and international news, Vargas has centered his work on the conversation about America’s changing identity.

Founder of Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America, Vargas is the executive editor of #EmergingUS, a multimedia news platform he conceived that focuses on race, immigration and the complexities of multiculturalism. #EmergingUS is a partnership with the Los Angeles Times.

Last year, MTV aired “White People,”  a television special Vargas directed on what it means to be young and white in America.

In 2011, Vargas wrote a groundbreaking essay or the New York Times Magazine in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant. A year later, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine worldwide with fellow undocumented immigrants for a cover story he wrote. 

He then wrote, produced and directed “Documented,” a documentary feature film on his undocumented experience. It received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary.

Vargas has written for the Washington Post, where he was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre. At the Post, he covered tech and video game culture, HIV/AIDS in the nation’s capital and the 2008 presidential campaign.

His work also has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Daily News, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker. Vargas is a former senior contributing editor at the Huffington Post, where he launched the Technology and College sections.

Named one of the “50 Politicos to Watch” by Politico in 2007, Vargas’ 2006 series on HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C. inspired “The Other City,” a documentary feature film that he co-produced and wrote.

A 2004 graduate of San Francisco State University, Vargas has received the Public Service Award from the National Council of La Raza, the country’s largest Latino advocacy organization; the Salem Award from the Salem Award Foundation, which draws upon the lessons of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692; and the Freedom to Write Award from PEN Center USA.

During his visit to Rowan, Vargas will speak and participate in a question-and-answer session with the audience.

At 9:15 p.m., following his presentation, “Documented,” Vargas’ film, will be shown to the Rowan community. Admission is free. The film tells the story of Vargas’ journey to the United States from the Philippines and also explores how a broken immigration system leads to broken families and broken lives.

Vargas’ talk is sponsored by a host of Rowan offices and colleges. Among them: the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion and Conflict Resolution; Student University Programmers; Residential Learning and University Housing; the Office of Student Activities; the College of Communication & Creative Arts; the College of Humanities & Social Sciences; the Educational Opportunity Fund/Maximizing Academic Potential program; the Faculty Center; and Leadership Rowan.

For information about Vargas’ appearance, contact Gardy Guiteau, director of SJICR, at socialjustice@rowan.edu or 856-256-5495.