USC student is youngest elected official in Los Angeles County
Most teens are eager to ditch high school after graduation. Triston Ezidore couldn’t stay away.
After graduating from Culver City High School in 2021, he headed to Syracuse University in New York to start college. Eager to see how the issues he’d championed while high school student body president were implemented, he tuned into Culver City school board meetings from afar.
The results were less then satisfying. He decided to head home and take matters into his own hands.
Back in Los Angeles, he transferred to the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and launched a bid for the Culver City Unified School District Board of Education. In 2022, he won one of three open seats.
When he was sworn into office this past December at age 19, Ezidore became the youngest elected official in Los Angeles County. He’s also the first Black man to serve on the Culver City school board.
Ezidore has had his fair share of detractors, some of whom question the ability of someone his age to serve. To that, he says he’s just answering the call from the public for more young people to get involved in politics.
“Many of most restorative movements in American history, like the Chicano ovement or the anti-Vietnam War movement, were largely led by young people,” he reminds his critics.
From student to school board
Ezidore was born in Minnesota, the son of Jamaican and Vietnamese immigrants, and was raised primarily by his mother, who emigrated from Vietnam as a child. His family bounced around the country frequently before settling in Culver City for his high school years.
“[Moving around] gave me a bunch of tools that have helped me get to where I am right now,” Ezidore told USC Annenberg Media. “It’s taught me how to meet new people, how to start conversations, how to be in new environments and speak with people for the first time.”
At Culver City High, Ezidore thrived, becoming class president in his senior year. However, he was acutely aware that not all Black students in his school district were faring as well. Many were not reading at curriculum level and had higher disciplinary rates.
During his term as student body president, he pushed for better support for students of color.
“The system was built for some to thrive and others not, especially when we talk about detention, dress code, suspensions. I’m trying to actively dismantle those systems,” he explains.
The COVID-19 pandemic was also boosting levels of depression and anxiety in teens, so he advanced ideas for an improved mental health curriculum. These were the same issues that inspired his successful bid for a seat on the school board after he observed that the school district wasn’t implementing things to his liking.
It’s been satisfying, he says, to see his efforts pay off. The district recently passed the Black Student Achievement Plan, which aims to address biases against Black students and close achievement gaps. Ezidore also successfully pushed to add a mental health curriculum to graduation requirements for high school seniors.
“The most enjoyable part for me was when we went on a tour around the district, going to sites during the school day and seeing our vision lived out day to day in the classroom,” he says.
There’s a personal motivation to his work, as well. His younger brother, Aiden, is now a high schooler in the Culver City school district. Ezidore hopes his efforts now to support Black students will help his brother succeed.
New man on campus
As a recently arrived transfer student at USC Dornsife, Ezidore is still getting settled on campus. He’s had to carefully balance schoolwork with his political work: The Culver City school board met the day after his first day of classes. He hasn’t had much time to join clubs, but it’s top of the list for this upcoming fall semester (along with making a few on-campus friends).
He feels confident he’s found his calling, though, and a political science degree from USC Dornsife fits right into the plan. “I’m interested in the role government can play in impacting and improving the lives of everyday people. That is where I think I excel,” he says.