9.10.19 Jose Antonio Vargas Visits LSU

Jose Antonio Vargas speaks on his story and his book entitled "Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen" in the LSU Student Union Theater on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019.

Jose Antonio Vargas, journalist, filmmaker, and CEO of Define American, addressed the LSU Ogden Honors College Tuesday night for its annual Honors Convocation.

Vargas is the author of the 2018 novel, “Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen,” which tells Vargas’s own story about immigration and life as an undocumented citizen. 

The novel is a featured read in the Honors 2000 class series, “A House Divided? Living Together in a Community.” Ogden Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle said the series is designed to cultivate discussions about tough subjects and dividing issues.

“We wanted to have the class be a critical thinking class,” Earle said. “We wanted it to be about conversations that are really difficult to have.”

The first conversation is based on “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen” and immigration in America. Students in the classes discussed the book and other materials about immigration, which prepared them for Vargas's talk at the Honors Convocation. 

Vargas also participated in a question and answer session with several sections of Honors 2000 prior to the convocation Tuesday night.

During his talk at the convocation, Vargas highlighted portions of his book and went into more detail about immigration in the United States. He discussed the three main sections of his book, “Lying,” “Passing,” and “Hiding,” and gave more detail into each. Vargas also gave the students many examples and statistics about immigration in the United States and how it has changed since the birth of the United States.

He then answered questions that students in the Honors College raised about his book, life and immigration.

“Human beings have the freedom and the right to move,” Vargas said in a response to a student’s question.

After the convocation, Vargas signed copies of “Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen.”

Psychology freshman Haven Watson, an Honors 2000 student this semester, attended the convocation and book signing with Vargas. At the signing, Vargas noticed a mistake in her copy of the book. He gave her his email and offered to get her a new copy.

“That completely blew me away,” Watson said. “Not only is this man giving me his email but is willing to give me a new copy of the book.”

Watson enjoyed the relevance of the topics discussed in Honors 2000 and the way the class is discussion-based.

“If we’re ever going to change the way society is, it starts when we're young,” Watson said. “College is a great place, especially with how many people we have here and how diverse it is, to ask those difficult questions.”

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