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 from the Philippines. A year later, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine with fellow undocumented immigrants as part of a follow-up cover story he wrote. Vargas 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.
Vargas received 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 proud graduate of San Francisco State University, where he was named Alumnus of the Year in 2012, and Mountain View High School. An elementary school named after Vargas will open in his hometown of Mountain View, California, in fall 2019.
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