Terrier Volume 78, Number 1 - Spring 2014 - Page 12

Alumni Spotlight No Dream Too Small By Danielle Adone ’13 L E F T T O R I G H T: Cesar Vargas ’05 speaks on immigration reform at the US Capitol; Vargas at a Dream Act rally, and with Senator Richard Lugar (R) Indiana. Cesar Vargas ’05 has called New York City his home since his parents illegally brought him to the United States from Mexico when he was five. Raised in Brooklyn, today he lives on Staten Island. V argas walked through the doors of it turned down his certification because St. Francis College with little or no Vargas was still not an authorized citizen. “I felt like I needed to fight for direction after discovering the College Vargas told his story publicly in myself and I was given the at an open house. From the moment he Washington D.C and across the country. entered 180 Remsen Street he knew it opportunity through my advocacy” “I felt like I needed to fight for myself and would be the place he would call home for I was given the opportunity through my his college years. advocacy,” he said. Vargas says the College accepted him with open arms whereas many However, Vargas’ first action at Capitol Hill was for a different reason schools in the metropolitan area would not grant him the opportunity entirely. He had a desire to serve the United States in the military. for a higher-level education because of his immigration status. But again his immigration status prevented him from fulfilling a dream. “A small-core community for me was the clincher. I just always His work has brought attention to his situation. Vargas has been loved the small, close connected environment SFC has,” said Vargas. featured in The New York Times on multiple occasions with a focus He majored in Philosophy under Professor Sophie Berman whom on his congressional work to assist other young immigrants. Vargas considered his most important mentor at the College. Vargas began the Dream Act Coalition where he used his legal Even with a GPA over 3.7, for Vargas college became more than just education and philosophy skills to help young people discuss and a place to study and write papers; the school gave him the encourageobtain citizenship. “Basically I created my own job, since I couldn’t ment to pursue his dreams and to fight against limits imposed by his life. obtain a job in law after I completed law school,” said Vargas, who is The late Frank J. Macchiarola ’62 also checked in with Vargas regularly a co-director of the non-profit organization. to ensure his time was well spent. He feels many students fear admitting their immigration status. After graduating from SFC in less than four years in 2005, Vargas Vargas advises these young people to get connected with their school. still did not have legal immigration status. He worked as a waiter for a “Don’t try to hide. You are only keeping yourself in the shadow. Show year while studying for the LSAT with hopes of gaining entrance into that you are not afraid. Know that you are not alone. Our stories are law school. A high score enabled Vargas to attend CUNY School of Law. truly not different than many others,” said Vargas. “Because of St. Francis College I wanted a small law school with a Vargas finds a deep satisfaction in his current job although he still similar environment,” said Vargas. He also wanted to make his parents hopes that, one day, the State Supreme Court will allow him to become proud of him. a licensed lawyer. Until then Vargas will continue to make SFC proud In 2011, Vargas graduated with a 3.8 GPA. In November of that as an advocate for immigrant rights and as a conduit for other young year, he passed the bar but disappointment still lay ahead. Although people to tell their stories. a committee appointed by the State Supreme Court rated him stellar, Editor’s Note: As of this writing, Vargas’ appeal