SEMO president visits campus, meets with students and staff

Dr.+Carlos+Vargas-Aburto%2C+president+of+SEMO%2C+poses+with+senior+Cassidy+Schatz.++Dr.+Vargas+presented+Schatz+with+an+admission+letter+to+SEMO+when+he+spoke+to+students+on+Dec.+1.
Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto, president of SEMO, poses with senior Cassidy Schatz.  Dr. Vargas presented Schatz with an admission letter to SEMO when he spoke to students on Dec. 1.

Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto, president of SEMO, poses with senior Cassidy Schatz. Dr. Vargas presented Schatz with an admission letter to SEMO when he spoke to students on Dec. 1.

Dr. Carlos Vargas-Aburto, president of SEMO, poses with senior Cassidy Schatz. Dr. Vargas presented Schatz with an admission letter to SEMO when he spoke to students on Dec. 1.

Izzy Clark

Martin Trujillo, News Editor

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On Friday, Dec. , Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) representatives and staff came to Ritenour High School to talk to students, and among these visitors was president of SEMO, Carlos Vargas-Aburto.

Dr. Vargas is a Hispanic first-generation college student. He talked to RHS seniors who have already been accepted into SEMO about his humble beginnings.

“I grew up very modest–my family didn’t have any resources. Some of your families may even have more than what we had. We didn’t even own a house,” Dr. Vargas said.

Despite all this, Dr. Vargas was able to graduate at the National Autonomous University of Mexico with a Bachelor of Science in physics. After that, he went to the University of Michigan to receive his Master of Science and Ph.D. in physics and aerospace.

He then talked about his concern for students who are also first-generation college students and the worries that their parents have. Dr. Vargas explained how SEMO attempts to help students and parents through applying for colleges.

“The process for choosing colleges has become more complex. One of the things we are trying to do is to interact more with parents and to help them understand what is going on. We are aware of the fact that the parents find this an overwhelming process. I advise students to relax and ask for help for their parents,” Dr. Vargas said.

In addition to staff and faculty, Dulce Maldonado Muños, a first-generation student at SEMO, also came to RHS. She explained her experience with explaining college to her parents. (This interview was conducted in Spanish and translated for the story).

“My parents knew absolutely nothing, other than that I wanted to go to a university. Mamá said, ‘You are the one that knows English, so you are the one that has to get information.’ Many of us have to be the person in the middle and have to translate for our parents. I had to explain that I had to live on campus. She asked, ‘Why does my child have to live on campus?’ I explained that I know that she loves and cares for me, but this experience allowed me to become more independent. Mamá will always be my mother, but I also have to be my own independent person,”  Muños said

The SEMO representatives ended their visit to RHS with a surprise. Dr. Vargas personally delivered Senior Cassidy Schatz’s acceptance letter, a SEMO shirt, and then gave her his SEMO shades.

Before leaving, Dr. Vargas gave his concluding remarks

“My father used to say, ‘no vengo a ver si puedo sino porque puedo vengo:’ When you want to do something you don’t just say ‘I’m gonna to try.’ Instead, you do it, and there is nothing that you cannot do,” Dr. Vargas said.

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SEMO president visits campus, meets with students and staff