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An educator by heart, Edwin Vargas works to forge a new generation of CT leaders

Former state representative Edwin Vargas has become the political science professor and member of the William O'Neil endowed chair in public policy at CCSU.
Ayannah Brown
/
Connecticut Public
Former state representative Edwin Vargas has become the political science professor and member of the William O'Neil endowed chair in public policy at CCSU.

Edwin Vargas Jr. spent a life in public service. This year he resigned from the General Assembly, but he’s returning to his educational roots this time as a college professor at Central Connecticut State University.

Vargas became the new Governor William A. O'Neill Endowed Chair in Public Policy and Practical Politics earlier this year, after resigning from his seat for the 6th District of Hartford to pursue education, which he said is his "first love."

Vargas remains well known within the Hispanic community in Connecticut. Recently he and Sylvia, his wife, spoke at the Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Center, to inspire Hispanic students to continue with their goals, to foster diversity and awareness in the state.

Vargas is proud of his Latin American origins and continues to advocate for that wider community. In February, he participated in International Mother language day. Vargas had spent years educating English language learners before becoming a legislator. He said, though, it is essential to ensure young Latin Americans retain the language spoken by their parents.

“I think the community should preserve their mother language because the United States will benefit culturally, diplomatically, politically, and commercially from having American citizens speaking more than one language,” Vargas said.

Vargas will start teaching local government and civic engagement in the fall of 2023. He said the country would benefit from having young leaders in public office.

“I’m very excited about [teaching] because that certainly is going [to] be one of my focuses to get the students from disenfranchised communities and give them the opportunity to exercise leadership,” Vargas said.

Although overall enrollment in Connecticut colleges has declined, 31,974 Hispanic students enrolled in Connecticut colleges for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Vargas taught in Hartford Public Schools for 35 years and then served as a representative to Hartford for five consecutive terms. He said education is essential to keep growing in any aspect of life.

“You have to keep learning because society is changing very fast, the economy is changing very fast, jobs are changing,” Vargas said. “So, people that are well prepared will be able to navigate all the changes in the economy.”

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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