Getting Young People Involved in Politics is a Driving Force for this Grad

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This story is part of a series of profiles the Ventura County Office of Education is presenting about outstanding graduating seniors in the Class of 2021.

Alex-crWhile many Americans are turned off by the divisive state of our nation’s politics, Alex Edgar is trying to do something about it. “Maybe we don't have to be told that things are this way because they’ve always been this way, and we can actually work to change them,” he says.

Alex made a difference throughout his four years at Royal High School in Simi Valley by taking on a variety of leadership roles. In addition to being chosen as the student body president, he’s been editor of the school newspaper, president of the Mock Trial team and captain of the track and field team.

“My main takeaway from high school is to put yourself out there and try different things and to know it’s OK to fail,” he says. “Either you get a good experience out of it, or you learn something about yourself and what you’re capable of.”

Alex was part of the Ronald Reagan Citizen Scholar Institute, which is a partnership between Royal High School and the Reagan Library. As part of the program, he created an event called “Helpful Highlanders” (that’s the school’s mascot) that encouraged students to perform acts of kindness.

class-of-2021In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, Alex and a friend led a voter registration and political awareness campaign aimed at students and the community at large. It included a city council candidates forum and an introduction to the inner workings of the local school board. “I’m a fairly involved person, but before this panel, I probably couldn't tell you what the school board did or how I could be involved in what they're doing,” he says. “I was hosting it, but I was learning from it still.”

Alex says he’s distressed by laws now being passed in some states that make it more difficult for people to vote. “I think it’s absolutely insane . . . to see states across the country fight to limit people’s right to vote and to make it harder for poor people, for people of color, people who don't have the same access to opportunities, to make it harder for them to vote.”

This fall, Alex will attend UC Berkeley, where he plans to major in political science. He hopes to become an attorney focusing on civil rights or environmental protection. And he hasn’t ruled out getting into politics himself.

Despite the contentiousness of the current political climate, Alex remains optimistic about the future. He says the young people in his generation are becoming more involved in doing something about the issues they care about. “This is going to be our future, and it really does fill me with hope seeing people take their future into their own hands.”


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