Year Graduated: 1993
Major: Public Health
Job Title: Director of Public Health, Ventura County
Ventura County Public Health Director Rigoberto Vargas (’93) has an understated evaluation of the current COVID-19 era: “Interesting times.”
It keeps with his administrative philosophy of leading by example. He is encouraging, yet realistic, and having grown up in Ventura County he takes personally his responsibility to protect the health and well-being of its citizens.
Accordingly, he strives to direct his department’s 350 employees and $45 million annual budget in the most efficient and effective ways possible to combat the coronavirus.
It has been challenging not because the county has the largest number of cases or anything like that, but because of the unprecedented nature and enormity of the situation from a global scale to a national and local scale. At the same time, as challenging as it is, he finds that it is also rewarding to be at the forefront of trying to mitigate the situation.
At the recommendation of his professors, Vargas developed skills in grant writing that have served him well. He said his agency depends on 90% of its funding from grants which pay for programs and positions it would otherwise lack.
“Having a master’s degree in public health has been a blessing for me in my career because without it I definitely never would have gotten to where I am now,“ said Vargas, who has worked at the agency for 22 years and been its director for seven. Now, he is counting on his training and experience to help him serve his community like never before.
Aztecs Making an Impact