Arianna Quetzal Vargas (B.A., B.S. ’18) is passionate about health and wants other people to share her enthusiasm. As a high school student, she organized a conference on young women’s health. She also worked with the Youth Leadership Institute on health policy issues, such as limiting advertising for unhealthy products and raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21.
Arianna was a double major in Health Education in the College of Health & Social Sciences and Latino Studies in the College of Ethnic Studies at SF State. Her Latino Studies work allowed her to learn more about her culture, while acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to address the health needs of her community as a Health Education major.
Arianna’s relationship to the College of Ethnic Studies began way before she enrolled as a student. Starting at the age of two, her mother, Venecia Margarita (B.A., ’02; M.S.W., ’05), was a Raza Studies major and occasionally attended class with her baby in tow. Venecia learned from an early age that education is empowering, as evidenced by her impressive practice of community empowerment through education.
While an undergraduate at SF State, Arianna received multiple scholarships, including two University scholarships, the Annetta & Gertie Jolivette Empowerment Scholarship, and the College of Health and Social Sciences/Associated Students scholarship. In 2018 she was chosen to be a distinguished student speaker at SF State’s commencement. In her inspiring speech she encouraged her fellow graduates to “…remember that wherever we go in this lifetime we can make transformational changes that will impact generations to come…Let’s be the graduating class that will make conscious transformational and generational changes. We will leave mother earth so that our future children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren can still enjoy breathable air, clean water, and healthy food.”
Today, Arianna has chosen to continue her lifelong relationship with the College of Ethnic Studies, and is pursuing her M.A. in the college. She also works at Thurgood Marschall High School in San Francisco, where she motivates high school students to pursue higher education.
“Let’s be the graduating class that will make conscious transformational and generational changes. We will leave mother earth so that our future children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren can still enjoy breathable air, clean water, and healthy food.” —Arianna Vargas, 2018 SF State commencement speaker