Manuel Vargas and his journey after BC


Anthony Vasquez

Manuel Vargas presented his father’s syllabus for the philosophy class that he had taught in Mexico. He pointed out the highlighted scribbles that Vargas once made as a child, which led to his father hiding the book and syllabus away from him until he was older.

Anthony Vasquez, Reporter

Following up the fourth Jess Nieto conference event, a philosophy professor at UC San Diego, Manuel Vargas spoke at the second session conference on March 29.      

BC history professor Oliver Rosales introduced the audience to some information about the conference event. He stated, “We are here to celebrate academic life at Bakersfield College, the arts, scholarship, culture, Chicano Studies.  These are topics that are relative to the San Joaquin Valley and all things that Jess cared deeply about.” 

The conference focused on Vargas, who was the featured guest speaker, telling his educational journey from attending BC as a student to now working as a philosopher.

He began his educational journey for higher education here at BC, Vargas started off focusing on completing his general education requirements, and later on, entered philosophy classes and became a philosophy major. Vargas finished part of his education at BC and transferred to UC Davis.

“I had a wonderful experience at Bakersfield College and I carried that inspiration off to Davis and effectively took every class I could at Davis in the two years in philosophy.” 

Afterwards, he went into graduate school at the University of Notre Dame. He pointed out that although they provided a big philosophy program, he also struggled with his experience at Notre Dame. 

“I experienced culture shock for the first time in my life and when I moved to Indiana and a sense of cultural disorientation that came from a lack of the kind of things that were familiar to me.”

An interesting moment in Vargas’s conversation was when he explained that there had been a lack of Spanish philosophy. He stated, “Spanish is a widely spoken language, dominant language in large parts of the world.  There’s a long history of people thinking in Spanish and writing in Spanish.  How could it be that no one did philosophy in Spanish or important philosophy in Spanish?” He then went on to explain that he later on found out that his father once taught a philosophy class in Mexico. 

Eventually, Vargas got his Ph.D. at Stanford University and went on to work at UC San Diego. Wrapping up his talk about his educational path, Vargas gave the conference viewers some advice to take with them after the end of the conference. “Make friends with people that are trying to make the world a better place and they’re doing challenging things, and if you don’t see what you want in the world, get the best team you can find, and sometimes you will succeed.”