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Fidel Vargas
Fidel Vargas speaks on the growth of Hispanics in higher education at the 2020 L'Attitude Conference. Photo: L'Attitude.

Fidel Vargas highlights the power and reach of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund as AL DÍA’s 2022 Education Archetype

Vargas offered virtual remarks on Sept. 23, and also spoke of the trailblazing work of Manuel Torres.

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Fidel Vargas, CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), wasn’t in person on Friday, Sept. 23 to receive his education archetype award at AL DÍA’s 2022 Hispanic Heritage Archetypes Gala, but his words in a pre-recorded message spoke the power and potential of the organization he’s led since 2013.

Founded back in 1975, HSF’s goal since the beginning has been to empower, educate and financially support Hispanic students across the U.S. on their journeys into higher education.

In his speech at AL DÍA’s Archetypes Gala, Vargas highlighted just how far the organization has come since its founding.

The numbers in 2022 include more than 530 advisory council members in 50 cities, 12,000 parents and K-through-12 students in 2,900 cities across the country, and more than 25,000 HSF scholars from all 50 states at more than 1,200 universities. In terms of alumni, Vargas cited 65,000 across the world. 

According to HSF’s website, the total number of scholarships awarded in the organization’s history amounts to $675 million.

Vargas’ journey to lead the Hispanic higher ed juggernaut came after long stints in both public service and Corporate America. On the public service front, Vargas made is own American history in 1992, as he became one of the youngest elected officials ever and the first to become mayor of a major municipality when he became mayor of Baldwin Park, California. Vargas was reelected in 1994, but did not seek reelection in 1997.

Within Corporate America, Vargas became a founding partner of Centinela Capital Partners in 2000. There, at the New York-based private equity firm, it managed nearly $1 billion in minority-owned funds.

Manuel Torres’ reminder 

In the second half of his speech at the Archetypes Gala, Vargas highlighted the importance of recognizing Manuel Torres with the Archetype Awards, and what it meant to him to be honored. He started by saying he was “proud,” and touched upon Torres’ history as the only Hispanic buried in the last 200 years on “holy ground” in Philadelphia, where the U.S. was born.

“Manuel Torres is a reminder that this is our country as well,” Vargas continued. “And as a proud American who was born and raised in this country, laws and all, I’m always glad to point out that I and all of you are as a American as any of our founding fathers.”

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