Welcome New Faculty Member Nancy Vargas

Welcome New Faculty Member Nancy Vargas

Nancy Vargas is an Assistant Professor in the department of Health and Exercise Sciences.

Professor Vargas comes to WOU with an impressive background and wealth of experience in Public Health and Education. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of California, Riverside, a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of California, Fullerton, and is currently a PhD Candidate at Oregon State University studying Public Health. For many years, Professor Vargas worked in urban settings, developing curriculum and programming in the fields of drug and violence prevention, nutrition, mental health, and leadership for K-12 schools and community organizations. At Oregon State University, she has dedicated over two thousand hours volunteering for the 4-H outreach program. Over the summer she spent a week volunteering for an overnight summer camp for migrant youth and is always looking for opportunities to immerse herself in the lived experiences of Latinx youth and families. 

As a Latina that has lived in both California and Oregon, Professor Vargas has experienced the rich diversity of urban and rural communities. Nancy’s personal journey closely aligns with the evolving demographics at Western Oregon University. Her historical experiences mirror the challenges faced by many of our student families, from being the first in her family to receive an education beyond elementary school, to food insecurity, or the constant worry of having a mixed-status family. Her presence as an instructor at WOU, with her urban and rural experiences, provides tangible examples of the historically excluded communities our students come from and aspire to serve.

Nancy’s service record is exemplary. At OSU, she initiated and co-facilitated an international student town hall in response to the international student ban and was instrumental in advocating for changes in the college to support Black students. These efforts led the college to apply and receive a grant that aims to make public health academic programs more equitable. Professor Vargas also worked as a Program Coordinator for a research study that trained Latinx youth to be LGBTQ+ allies, youth and families were sharing their own stories of social isolation and oppression during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, she and partner organizations began a food box delivery program to deliver food boxes to migrant families in need. She also heard personal narratives of being denied COVID PPE at work and barriers to obtaining the COVID vaccine. As a result, she amplified their voices through protests, news engagements, and served on community task forces to eliminate barriers. All this exemplifies her dedication to real-world impact.

Nancy Vargas is not only a scholar but a changemaker, a mentor, and a tireless advocate for social justice. Her commitment to reducing health and educational inequities and advancing social justice aligns perfectly with our institution’s mission. WOU is honored to welcome Professor Nancy Vargas as a member of our community, and we look forward to the transformative impact she will undoubtedly have at Western Oregon University.

Fun Facts about Professor Nancy Vargas:

  • She is the eldest of four siblings, her younger sister is 29, her little brother is 13, and her littlest sister is 11.
  • She has a cat named Phoebe Consuela Banana Hammock. 
  • Her favorite restaurants in Oregon are Kann (Haitian cuisine) and Akadi PDX(West African Cuisine). 
  • She went viral in high school for lip syncing “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65 in the early days of youtube.
  • She acted in a mini telenovela https://health.oregonstate.edu/enlace/michelle.

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