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Darla Moore School of Business

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Helping the less fortunate

Moore School and ROTC student raises money for Thanksgiving meals

Professional MBA program student Xavier Vargas (’22 MBA) is helping those in need this holiday season by raising funds for food banks.

In early November, Vargas hosted and organized the Mount Moriah 5K Run in Camden, South Carolina. All of the proceeds from this event went to meal centers for the homeless for Thanksgiving.

Vargas said the inspiration for this charity run was sparked when he was growing up in the Bronx, New York. Coming from an underprivileged area, Vargas understood the hardships of people sometimes struggling to put food on the table.

“Growing up in Butler Houses [government-assisted housing] in the Bronx, there were times we had to go to local soup kitchens for meals,” he said. “When I was 12 years old, I knew I wanted to give back to local soup kitchens.”

For soup kitchens or food banks in the Midlands area, Vargas’ 5K run raised $1,340, which will provide 268 meals for the holidays.

“Giving back to the soup kitchen unites the community and bridges some of the social, economic, emotional and psychological gaps that we have,” Vargas said.

Along with his charitable work, Vargas has 13 years of military service with the United States Army. He is an active-duty Sergeant First Class who will transition into the Officer Corps after completing Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) this spring.

He has been deployed twice with the army, spending nine months in Afghanistan from 2012-2013 and then a year in Iraq from 2015-2016.

Vargas attended multiple higher education institutions to obtain his bachelor’s degree in health science/public health since he moved several times as an active military member.

Currently in tandem with the Professional MBA program, Vargas has an active role with the Army-ROTC program at UofSC. As a company commander, he serves with the Green to Gold Active Duty Option, Cadet Command and Headquarters and Headquarters Company programs.

Before deciding to come to UofSC, Vargas toured the campus and fell in love with everything the university offered.

“The Moore School core classes and specialization options were second to none compared to local universities,” he said. “After touring the campus and the Moore School and viewing how connected the university and city of Columbia are, I knew this was the place for me.”

The Professional MBA program was the perfect fit for Vargas once he enrolled in the Moore School. He says it allowed him to learn the necessary skills needed to start a nonprofit organization and the flexibility to continue serving his country.

“Though the Army provides us with communication and leadership skills, I knew the PMBA program would enhance my analytical and strategic-thinking capabilities while connecting with other people,” Vargas said. “The PMBA program coursework, peer networking and MooreConnect [the alumni networking portal] provide unlimited resources to obtain my short- and long-term goals.”

In the future, Vargas plans to use his MBA degree to continue serving people in need by opening a nonprofit or LLC. He plans to continue working towards this goal once he completes his active duty in the next decade.

“I would like to open a nonprofit or LLC to support citizens in low-income communities or soup kitchens through fitness events like 5K, 10K and half-marathons,” he said.

-James Culbertson


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