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By Shehtaz Huq ’14

Film and media studies major Joel Vargas ’14 (Bronx, N.Y.) is a recipient of the prestigious Beinecke Scholarship.

The award will provide $4,000 now and $30,000 when he attends a graduate school in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Vargas is one of 20 exceptional students nationwide who received the scholarship this year.

Joel Vargas '14

Joel Vargas ’14

“Graduate school wasn’t really in the picture for me post Lafayette, but this scholarship has opened up possibilities for me,” he says. “I now have the opportunity to continue my education soon after graduating Lafayette, as well as the pursuit of my dream of someday becoming a filmmaker.”

Becoming a filmmaker has been Vargas’ childhood ambition. “Sometimes I remember the films I’ve watched as a kid more than my actual childhood,” he jokes. But the decision to become a film and media studies major did not occur to him until he took FAMS 101 his first semester at Lafayette.

“I soon realized after my first film and media studies course that my true passion and talent were in film,” he states. “The next thing you know, I dropped my double major in engineering studies and decided to pursue FAMS full time. Being a FAMS major at Lafayette has granted me many great opportunities, opportunities that if you’d had told me five years ago that I would have, I’d had said you were nuts.”

As a recipient of the College’s Creative and Performing Arts (CaPA) Fellowship, he has collaborated with other students and faculty on many film projects, including serving as editor of a film that debuted at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in New York City. He also received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and spent a semester studying at the Film and Television School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czech Republic.  On campus, he is the co-organizer of Lafayette Association of Film Students.

Vargas’ plans after graduation include taking a year off and moving to California.

“I would like to live in Los Angeles while working at some film-related job to gain real-world experience and exposure to the film industry,” he says. “Then I am considering going to graduate school, pursuing a master of fine arts at University of Southern California, New York University, or the American Film Institute for film directing or cinematography.”

See a list of recent Lafayette recipients of national and international scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and post-graduate study

For information on applying for scholarships and fellowships, contact Julia A. Goldberg, associate dean of the College, (610) 330-5521.

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