Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas Visits Wisdom to Share His Story


David Fanucchi

Vargas answered questions about his book with an AP English class at Wisdom HS; Tuesday, March 5, 2019

David Fanucchi, Journalism Adviser


Jose Antonio Vargas – a leading voice for the human rights of immigrants – dropped by the Wisdom High School campus on Tuesday, March 5 to visit and meet with faculty and students. He answered some questions from teachers and administrators while eating lunch, and then spent time in one of Wisdom’s AP English classes, answering questions from students and discussing his book “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen” published by Harper Collins in the Fall of 2018.

Vargas is the founder of Define American, the nation’s leading non-profit media and culture organization that fights injustice and anti-immigrant hate through the power of storytelling. “I hope that my visit was enlightening and informative, and that it might have challenged a few of the students,” said Vargas. “The future of America is going to be decided by these kids, and not only by what they look like, but what they think and how they feel. So I am really happy to have been here today”.

In 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he 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 a follow-up cover story he wrote. He then produced and directed Documented, a documentary feature film on his undocumented experience. It aired on CNN, streamed on Netflix, 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 Salem Award from the Salem Award Foundation, which draws upon the lessons of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692; 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, he is a proud graduate of San Francisco State University (’04), where he was named Alumnus of the Year in 2012, and Mountain View High School (’00). An elementary school named after Vargas will open in his hometown of Mountain View, California in 2019.