(Nov. 1, 2017) -- Meet Jesse Vargas ’96. He found his calling in leadership at UTSA and now manages Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
Growing up in Crystal City, Texas, Vargas had a head for business from a young age.
“I went to my elementary school with a briefcase instead of a backpack,” he said.
Vargas was likely taking after his father and grandfather, both entrepreneurs whom he admired deeply. His father, who owned an electronics repair and sales company, took Vargas along on buying trips when he was a child.
By the time Vargas was in high school, his family had moved to San Antonio and was adamant that he earn a college degree.
“We went on tours of campuses, and I applied to various schools, but UTSA always felt like my home university and the one I needed to attend,” he said.
When he arrived at UTSA in 1991, he quickly immersed himself in the campus culture, finding a welcoming, diverse community that allowed him to have an active social life to balance with his studies in the College of Business.
“I applied myself in the right ways,” he said. “UTSA really helped me to learn how to learn. I’ve always been a very curious person but I think college is the best time to seek out knowledge, because what you learn as a college student tends to inform the rest of your life.”
Vargas recalled that the last two years of his time at UTSA were the most challenging as well as the most rewarding. He participated in a mentorship program with the management team at SeaWorld, which helped him learn how to craft business objectives for a company. The experience continues to inform his work today.
In 1996, Vargas graduated from UTSA with an undergraduate degree in business, with a concentration in leadership and management. While in school, he worked nearby at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
Eventually, he moved on to other jobs in the entertainment and hospitality industry, including senior management roles at the San Francisco Zoo and at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.
In 2014, he discovered an opportunity to work for Ferrari World Abu Dhabi as its general manager and immediately jumped at it.
He now lives in the United Arab Emirates, and among his many responsibilities is bringing people from all over the world to the park, which is home to the world’s fastest roller coaster.
“Living and working in Abu Dhabi has been an invaluable experience,” Vargas said. “We have 68 different nationalities working in the park and people from 167 different countries have visited. It’s an incredible mix of cultures and approaches to business.”
Vargas frequently draws on his time at UTSA to lead a diverse group of people and motivate tourists from other cultures to visit Ferrari World.
“I really enjoy seeing visitors experience the park,” he said. “Everyone sees it a different way, and it’s great being a part of their vacation. We’re creating memories. People save their whole lives to experience this once-in-a-lifetime visit; it’s definitely something I hold very dear to my heart.”
Vargas also travels internationally quite frequently for his job and has been moved by the presence of UTSA t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts in airports on the other side of the world.
“It’s amazing to travel to London and see people wearing UTSA gear in the airport, in this international crowd,” he said. “It’s been amazing to see UTSA grow, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
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In honor of UTSA's 50th Anniversary in 2019, the university is hosting Roadrunner Days Spring Edition - two weeks of semester-launching activities built around our deeply held values of student success, student involvement, community service and fun!Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Opening Reception got exhibit featuring artists Miguel Aragon, Aaron Coleman, Sandra Fernandez, Annalise Gratovich, Marco Hernandez, Kristen Powers Nowlin, & Patricia Villalobos EcheverriaMain Art Gallery, Arts Building (ART 2.03.04), Main Campus
Tracy Cowden, Roland K. Blumberg Endowed Professor in Music and chair of the UTSA Department of Music launches the UTSA 50th Anniversary Scholars Speaker Series with Music as Medicine: The Power and Influence of Music on our Health.Radius Center, 411 E. Martin, San Antonio
UTSA African American Studies Program presents this series featuring Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University.Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus)
Join fellow Runners to walk for 10 minutes on the Main Campus. The event reminds us of the importance of exercise, diet and healthy habits in protecting our hearts.Outside the North Paseo Building, Main Campus
The annual event features authentic foods, music, dance, martial arts, shopping, games and entertainment from China, to the Indian Sub-continent, and the island nations of the Pacific. The Festival features two stages, a martial arts demonstration area, children’s hands on crafting area, anime activities, bonsai and ikebana displays, mahjong table and more.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
UTSA Libraries will host Bryan Gervais, UTSA assistant professor in the Dept. of Political Science & Geography, for his presentation "Political Incivility in the Digital Age." Pizza will be provided to UTSA students while supplies last.John Peace Library Assembly Room (JPL 4.04.22)
Level up your career with a graduate business degree from the UTSA College of Business. Join us for this Open House to learn which of our 13 degree programs is right for you.Business Building (BB 2.06.04), Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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