St. Bonaventure University welcomes this year’s All Bonaventure Reads author Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and theatrical producer, to campus Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Vargas will deliver a keynote address to members of the Class of 2023 at 7 p.m. in the Reilly Center Arena. The talk is free and open to the public, with a book signing in the University Bookstore to follow.
Vargas’ best-selling memoir, “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen,” was published by HarperCollins in 2018 and is the university’s 14th all-campus read.
As part of the All Bonaventure Reads initiative, first-year students at St. Bonaventure received a copy of “Dear America” during Orientation and were asked to read the book and write an essay reflecting on it as their first college assignment. This fall, students are engaged in conversations about the book’s themes in their first-year seminar course, SBU 101.
Now 38 years old, Vargas was 12 when his mother sent him from the Philippines to California to live with his grandparents. It wasn’t until he tried to apply for a driver’s license as a teenager that he learned he had entered the U.S. with false documents.
A leading voice for the human rights of immigrants, Vargas founded the non-profit media and culture organization Define American, named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast
Company. Most recently, he co-produced Heidi Schreck’s acclaimed play “What the Constitution Means to Me,” which opened on Broadway last spring.
In 2011, The New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay Vargas wrote 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 as part of his follow-up cover story. He then produced and directed “Documented,” an autobiographical documentary feature film that aired on CNN and received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary. Also in 2015, MTV aired “White People,” an Emmy-nominated television special he produced and directed on what it means to be young and white in a demographically-changing America.
Among accolades he has received are the Freedom to Write Award from PEN Center USA and honorary degrees from Colby College and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Passionate about the role of arts in society and promoting equity in education, he serves on the advisory board of TheDream.US, a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrant students.
A product of the San Francisco Bay Area, Vargas is a 2004 graduate of San Francisco State University, where he was named Alumnus of the Year in 2012. An elementary school named after Vargas opened in his hometown of Mountain View, California, in August.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. In 2019, St. Bonaventure was named the #1 regional university value in New York and #2 in the North by U.S. News and World Report.
St. Bonaventure University has selected “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen” by Jose Antonio Vargas as its All Bonaventure Reads (ABR) book for 2019-2020.
“Dear America” tells the story of Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and his journey through life as an undocumented immigrant in the United States. With passion and ambition, Vargas expresses what it means to be an illegal citizen in a time where fear for being deported is at its highest.
The book also allows readers to stand in Vargas’ shoes and understand life’s biggest difficulties when becoming a legal citizen is no longer an option.
As part of the All Bonaventure Reads initiative, first-year students at St. Bonaventure will receive a copy of “Dear America” during Orientation and be asked to read the book and write an essay reflecting on it as their first college assignment. Students will be engaged in conversations about the book’s themes in their first-year seminar course, SBU 101, and various campuswide events during the upcoming academic year.
“l cried reading this book, realizing more fully what my parents endured.”
— Amy Tan, New York Times bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and Where the Past Begins
“This book couldn’t be more timely and more necessary.”
— Dave Eggers, New York Timesbestselling author of What Is the What and The Monk of Mokha
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