Growing up as one of five children, Erik Vargas ’23 always had someone to spend time with. Throughout his childhood, he gravitated toward video games and explored their different worlds alongside his siblings. Now, as a University of Redlands student, he’s setting his sights on a career in entertainment and video game marketing. Supplementing his business administration bachelor’s degree with a marketing certificate from the U of R School of Continuing Studies will help him get there.
Vargas, who is a recipient of the Steven D. and Jane R. Carmichael Endowed Scholarship, is one of the first traditional undergraduate students to work towards a certificate at the same time as an undergraduate degree. As the son of a small business owner, he knows the value of being able to pursue something he enjoys and test some of the strategies he has learned in class in the real world. He views marketing as the more creative side of business—where he can put his own spin on things.
“I heard about the certification program and wanted to see if I could do it,” he says. “I already had enough credits from courses in my major to make it feasible, and I’ll have the certificate by the time I graduate with my degree.”
In addition to taking courses in economics, global business, and finance through his Business Administration and Management major, Vargas is learning about marketing research, social media marketing, and marketing analytics; his business knowledge is more robust as a result. His favorite course thus far is Principles of Management and Organizational Behavior, which explores themes of leadership in business, from increasing morale to building leadership skills.
The ability to combine these two academic efforts is one of the reasons that Vargas is glad he chose Redlands. A first-generation student, he had assumed he would enroll at a State university, but he found that he was captivated by the main Redlands campus when he toured it as a high school senior.
Now, Vargas leads other prospective students on campus tours as an admissions Bulldog ambassador. He says that being an ambassador has opened doors for him, and his opportunities on campus have continued to expand. He regularly flexes his leadership skills as a member of the Maroon and Grey Student Ambassadors, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and the Chi Rho Psi fraternity.
Being involved in Greek life has been a highlight of Vargas’s time on campus. “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of different people on campus through Chi Rho Psi,” he says. “Once you get involved, you feel a strong sense of family. We have a common goal and know that we can always rely on each other.”
Ultimately, this connectedness is what he values about being a part of the Redlands community. On any given night, a variety of events facilitate connection and bring diverse student populations together. At the bare minimum, Vargas notes, there is always someone to hang out with.
“There are so many clubs and organizations, academic and social groups, and so many people with diverse backgrounds—anyone can find a place where they belong here,” he says.
Vargas knows he will be able to take what he has learned at Redlands and apply it to a future career in marketing. He cites the Office of Career & Professional Development and peer writing tutors among those who have helped prepare him for life beyond campus.
At Redlands, Vargas encountered a community of people he could count on, which has given him the confidence to lead. “I like being a leader and I like taking charge,” he says. “Having that responsibility motivates me because I know people are relying on me to make positive results.”