Whatever happened to Israel?

Many of you remember Ismael Vargas, who was PURE’s bilingual trainer and assistant director for many years.


Israel Vargas

Not as many got to know Ismael’s brother, Israel, who worked for PURE for a couple of years back when we had our offices on Dearborn. Israel was a whiz of an admin asst and translated all of our materials and newsletters into Spanish, which was a wonderful resource for us. But we knew Israel was going to go on to bigger things – we just had no idea how big!

Here’s an announcement that really made my day:

For Immediate Release

May 20, 2014

Roosevelt University assistant provost is Gage Park Commencement speaker

Israel Vargas, assistant provost for college access and targeted recruitment programs at Roosevelt University, will deliver Gage Park High School’s commencement address June 7 at the Arie Crown Theatre.

Vargas, who grew up in the Gage Park area, said that he would talk to the graduating seniors about how earning a high school diploma is a rite of passage that will lead them into adulthood and the next stages of their lives.

“I will congratulate the students and encourage them to take this earned opportunity and make the most of it by further refining their knowledge,” he said.  “They now are equipped to make a difference in our communities and the world.”

Vargas holds two degrees from Roosevelt, a bachelor’s degree in 2006 and a master’s degree in Training and Development in 2008.  Before joining Roosevelt, he was executive director of San Jose Obrero Mission.  His passion for helping others has led him to speak against violence and to advocate for higher education at schools, churches and community events throughout Chicago. Vargas has participated in cease fire marches in Cicero and has received an Award of Excellence by the Office of the Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas and recognition by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations Advisory Council on Immigrants and Refugees.

Located at 5630 S. Rockwell St., Gage Park High School serves the Chicago Lawn, New City and Englewood neighborhoods.  It has 555 students.


By the way, Ismael is doing great, too. He is the first Latino working in the Business Licensing Department of the Town of Cicero, and is an assistant pastor at the Vida Abundante/Abundant Life Church as well as official chaplain for the Town of Cicero!


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