Judson University alumnus Mark Vargas has many friends in high places.
He plans to bring a few of them to his alma mater, starting with Dallas Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” star Mark Cuban next month.
Vargas, a 2004 Judson University alumnus and 2000 St. Charles High School graduate, will interview Cuban on May 16 at Judson University in Elgin as part of the new World Leaders Forum series, “Conversations with Mark Vargas.”
Proceeds from the event will fund entrepreneurship and diversity scholarships for students at Judson University. Tickets for the event start at $75 and more information is available by going to Judson University’s website at judsonu.edu.
Past guest speakers featured in the World Leaders Forum series have included former President George W. Bush, former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“I’ve been blessed with a very unique Rolodex and list of friends,” said Vargas, whose work as a tech entrepreneur in health care and as a political opinion writer has been featured in national publications. “I’m going to host this once, maybe twice per year, and the objective is for me to invite the most recognizable and high-profile names in the country in politics, in business and in media and they’re going to join me on campus for an intimate, one-on-one conversation to talk about life, business, current events, politics, successes and failures, inspiring stories and more.”
From 2007 to 2010, Vargas served as a civilian within the Office of the Secretary of Defense on a special task force focused on rebuilding war-torn economies through foreign and private investment. In 2009, he was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Civilian Service medal. His civilian service at the Defense Department included 14 trips to Baghdad and expanded across two presidential administrations.
Vargas earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Judson University, where he served as student body president.
“What’s going to make this series so unique is that every high-profile guest will be a personal friend of mine,” Vargas said. “And so the audience will be able to see sort of a camaraderie and level of comfort that may not exist in any other form. I’m not working through a speakers bureau. I’m just calling and texting and emailing some friends to join me on stage for this speakers series.”
His first guest, Cuban, is one of the wealthiest people in America and has an estimated net worth of $4.1 billion. Sponsors will have the opportunity to ask the speakers questions during the program.
“We’ve become really good friends over the last couple of years,” Vargas said. “And you don’t see Mark come out very often to speak at events.”
Vargas said that every penny raised in ticket sales and sponsorships will fund two student scholarships in diversity and entrepreneurship at Judson University. But it’s about more than just raising money, Vargas said.
“I also want to get to know these students and meet each and every one of them and provide an opportunity for me to mentor them as well,” he said.