ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — 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 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.
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, Calif., in August.