WASHINGTON POST -- He buried his fears under hard work. At Mountain View High School, writing became what he calls “a way of belonging” at both the school paper and a community paper. He ignored his grandfather’s worries about Vargas’s name appearing in print. He also sang, debated, acted, directed and was elected to represent the school’s interests at the school board. His senior year, he came out as gay. He formed a deep and lasting friendship with principal Pat Hyland when she approached him one night and asked, “Don’t you ever go home?”
Such friends helped him pay tuition at San Francisco State University and get an Oregon driver’s license, which did not require a green card or a passport. When he reached The Post in 2004, he seemed to me a whirlwind, going deep into the complexities of his generation. By connecting social media to the aftermath of the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, he was recognized as part of The Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize.