redefining life on HER own terms.
fearless, strong, resilient.
“According to Etimologias De Chile, the word “vaga” comes from the Latin word vagabundus, which gives us “vagabond,” meaning one without a home address, title-less individual, or one who frequently moves from place to place (Diccionario Etimologico Castellano en Línea, 2021).
Her Vaga Bound Roots has reclaimed this label and identifier to holistically represent the realities and potential of BIPOC women as fearless, strong, and resilient. A vaga is the most courageous community member who disrupts the status quo, finds motivation despite constant discouragement, continues to fight, asks for support, and celebrates her heritage in an impactful manner. Vagas understand that a sustainable community of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color requires the undoing of long-standing, toxic traditions perpetuated by patriarchy and white supremacy.”
-Excerpt from application essay Mary Avilez, 2022 Scholarship Recipient
Her Vaga Bound Roots supports and empowers BIPOC women to reach their fullest potential in every aspect of their lives.
Continue to build a world where BIPOC women’s dreams are not deferred, where women ignite the fire within them, disrupt the status quo, and demand equitable access to success.
We support women as they transition into academia and the professional world in the following ways:
Her Vaga Bound Roots first began as a personal blog to document the founder's experience as a first generation Mexican-American moving from The San Fernando Valley (California) to New York City to pursue a Masters Degree at New York University. She was the first in her family to move out-of-state and pursue a masters, and wanted to serve as inspiration for others, particularly women from her community, to reclaim their power and embrace their inner VAGA: a fearless, strong and resilient woman, going out into the world to follow their dreams and trailblaze their own paths. In short, she wanted to be the role model she wish she had growing up.
In 2018, Her Vaga Bound Roots was officially founded as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Since then, it has grown to be what it is today- an organization that increases access by hosting college readiness workshops led by experts in in the field who provide guidance around college applications, personal statements, or FAFSA applications. Supports retention by way of hosting workshops that are geared towards addressing challenges that often come with attending higher educational institutions, for example: addressing mental health concerns or providing financial resources like our scholarships to help break down financial barriers for women in pursuit of their academic endeavours. Lastly celebrating resiliency and amplifying the many voices of BIPOC women via our annual graduate series: Vagas With Degrees,
HER: Representative of every woman
VAGA: fearless, strong and resilient
BOUND: a woman bound to greatness
ROOTS: to remain grounded & never forget where you came from
Meet The Team
HVBR is a grassroots movement that is women-based and BIPOC led. Core practices are based on efforts to empower women by addressing challenges that influence the first-generation experience in higher education. With these thoughts in mind, we have executed free workshops on college readiness and mental health amongst other initiatives.
Our organization captures a unique experience for Latinx/Hispanic girls and overall women of color. The word “Vaga” portrays an experience that captures the intersectionality of culture, social constructions, and gender normative behavior. This word has the unique ability to establish community by drawing on our ability to connect with fundamental components of our identity.
Our staff’s educational and professional background uniquely position our organization to excel in the delivery of social services at the community level. Collectively, our board of directors has expertise in the delivery of mental health services, higher education, event management, and grant writing and reporting. Furthermore, our board resides in the east and west coast, supporting our ability to disperse messaging and services across the nation.
Founder & President
Wendoline Vargas, LCSW
Founder and President of Her Vaga Bound Roots, Wendoline was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley (Los Angeles). The youngest of 3 children and only daughter to traditional Mexican parents, Wendoline was a first-generation student set with the tough task to trail blaze her own path to higher education. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at UC Santa Barbara in 2013, and a Masters in Social Work from New York University in 2017. Wendoline is a fierce advocate for social justice and has a thriving passion for working with BIPOC women, young adults, and individuals with marginalized identities; empowering them to reach their fullest potential. She is a licensed, bilingual, clinical social worker and is currently working at an outpatient adolescent mental health center in NYC. Wendoline provides assessment and evidence based treatment to a diverse population of adolescents and young adults living with Mental Illness.
Wendoline created HVBR in 2017, while attending graduate school at NYU, a predominantly white institution. After noting a small number of BIPOC women in her graduate program, coupled with her personal journey, Wendoline set out to create an online platform to increase visibility and amplify the voices (and stories) - that were and continue to be so often untold or excluded. Wendoline believed it to be vital to uplift and celebrate the journey and successes of BIPOC women earning degrees, to inspire the next generation, thus creating the annual graduate series, "Vagas With Degrees".
Edwin Serrano, Ms. Ed
Edwin was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. He completed a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at UC Santa Barbara in 2013, and a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration from Florida International University in 2015. Edwin has recently transitioned into the Learning & Development world, serving as a Corporate Training Specialist at Vallarta Supermarkets where he helps professionally develop the talent at over 35 locations throughout the state of California. Prior to this, he dedicated six years to supporting students from marginalized backgrounds transition into higher education through housing and dining, multicultural/LGBTQIA+, and conference services at various universities.
Edwin has served as the Treasurer for Her Vaga Bound Roots since 2018, and uses his education, professional network, and privileges to better serve Black, Indigenous, and women of color pursuing academia and their professional goals. He believes HVBR represents the dreams and aspirations every older brother has for their sisters and is honored to be a part of the great team.
Edwin would like to see this movement of educated + professional BIPOC women reach even the most rural parts of the U.S.
Board Director & Grant Writer
Vanessa was born and raised in Los Angeles. She completed her Bachelor’s of Art in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master’s of Public Health at the University of Southern California.
Since graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree in 2013, Vanessa’s professional roles have been dedicated to grant management, research, implementing evidence-based initiatives, and serving as the liaison to community partners. Currently, her professional responsibilities as an Analyst include pre-award grant writing and the coordination of grant applications and materials.
Vanessa is an advocate for health and educational equity. As a Director of HVBR, Vanessa will support initiatives that promote educational equity through her role as a member of the Scholarship Committee, as well as with researching and pursuing grants to secure scholarships for future college-bound (vaga-bound) generations.