Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, founder of Define American.com and an undocumented immigrant, will speak on the campus of St. Mary’s University on Feb. 16 as part of the Lin Great Speakers Series. The event starts at 7 p.m. in the University Center’s Conference Room A. It is free and open to the public.
A journalist for more than a decade writing for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country, Vargas’ personal journey contends with some of the most fascinating stories he’s covered, living a double life since he was 16. After being born and reared in the Philippines, his mother, wanting to give her son a better life, sent him to live with his grandparents in Silicon Valley in 1993. Vargas loved his new homeland and immersed himself in American culture, spoke the language perfectly, studied hard in school and loved writing for the school paper. At 16 he discovered his green card was a fake. Vargas then realized he needed to continue hiding his true identity to avoid deportation and be able to pursue his American dream – a career in journalism.
Vargas wrote a widely circulated profile of Mark Zuckerberg for The New Yorker. He covered the tech and video game culture, HIV/AIDS, and the 2008 presidential campaign for The Washington Post, and was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize for covering the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech.
Since 1990, St. Mary’s University has offered the Lin Great Speakers Series to the public as a community service. The series is made possible by an endowment established in the memory of Shu Chi Lin by his widow, Mrs. Chang Le-Chiao, and his son, Vincent Lin, an alumnus and former St. Mary’s faculty member.