Student Spotlight: Josiah Edwards
El Camino College student Josiah Edwards has achieved a lot in the past few years. But what the outstanding student, debate champion, and successful community organizer really wants you to know is that there is still a lot of work to do, and he won’t quit until the job is finished. This resolve runs through all aspects of his life.
Edwards’ path started at El Camino in 2019 with a plan to take classes and transfer as soon as possible. He had plenty of credits accumulated from AP courses and concurrent enrollment, so he was ready to complete a year and transfer to UCLA, where he had already been accepted.
“It turns out that I love El Camino, so I decided to stay. I can honestly say that this has been the best place for me,” he said. “The professors are great, especially the communication professors who helped me discover the forensics team. They are the reason why I joined the team and continued at El Camino.”
A standout debater, Edwards was part of a squad in 2022 that won the “Season Sweepstakes” title and finished the year as the top community college debate team in the nation. He also took gold medals in parliamentary and extemporary debate. In 2022, the team retained its Phi Rho Pi debate national championship for the sixth straight year, and Edwards advanced to elimination rounds in all four of the events he entered. In addition, he received a gold medal in the IPDA debate format and also received a gold medal in impromptu speaking. But among all the prestigious awards and accolades, it is the quiet moments with the team that are the highlights of his time at El Camino.
“Competing at the national tournament was amazing, but I would say the best of times are just hanging out in the squad room,” he said. “I remember my first year in forensics. The pandemic hit, we had a great competition, and then ‘boom’ – everything shuts down. That first year was so memorable, and we had the best team ever. I can’t say enough about the forensics team. This is where I found my community.”
Edwards is also a dedicated climate organizer with Sunrise Movement LA, where he works to communicate connections between climate change and economic justice and racial justice, while helping people make positive change in their communities. His work has been documented by the New York Times and other media sources.
“To me, it’s about helping people truly see unjust systems and how they are responsible for oppressing communities,” said Edwards, who helped guide the organization through the pandemic and worked to build partnerships with area organizations. “This is my city, my home – my family has lived here for over a century, so I want things to be better. I’ve had asthma since I was a child; living in areas with environmental pollution can do that. Everyday people are experts in their own lives and when it comes to what they are dealing with daily, if they can decide to do something about it, that’s where the real power is. I organize for my community. We can do better, and I won’t stop until we win.”
Edwards plans to transfer next fall to continue his studies in communications and political science.
“I want to stay in Los Angeles, this is my home,” he said. “It’s the people that make all the difference – and I mean both at El Camino and the broader community. I have met so many people and made so many strong community connections and friendships. The people you meet are amazing.”