23 Under 20 – CCUSD Honors ‘Youngest Bright Minds’

It was a mild summer night in the Wende Museum Garden as Culver City [Unified School District] families gathered in formal dress not to honor elected officials or local activists, but instead to recognize some of the youngest bright minds in the community.

Inspired by the Forbes program with a similar name, members of the Culver City and Los Angeles community celebrated some of the brightest young minds in the Westside city through the inaugural “23 Under 20” awards.

Each of the 23 winners were recognized at the ceremony Sunday evening. All nominees were required to be 19 years old or younger and attend a school in the Culver City Unified School District system, and the winners were as old as 18 and as young as just 7 years old. Originally planned as ’20 Under 20′ there wer so many excellent nominees, the field expanded.

As each of the awardees were brought up to a stage to receive a trophy and certificates of recognition, presenters told the crowd what was said about them on the submissions on their behalf. In addition, the award winners submitted their own pieces on themselves, each with a particular moment in life that had a profound impact on them, as well as their hopes and dreams for their future. These were read out by elected officials as each winner officially received their award.

“I want to be able to give my parents a stable and relaxing life they deserve for all of the hard work they have done to give me and my siblings a successful future,” is what award winner Fernanda Vides, 18, submitted when asked about her hopes.

Even the youngest awardees in the audience had altruistic wishes for the future. “I hope all of our homeless neighbors find homes, and are treated with respect,” Camila Murphy, 7 wrote as her wish.

The winners of the award were:

Camila Murphy, 7
Prem Shah, 7
Aubrey Johnson, 8
Uma Dixit, 10
Vera Evans, 10
Dean Ethnasios, 11
Stella Pelletier De Chambure, 11
Amelia Warren, 11
Martin Gonzalez, 12
Gabriella Camara, 14
Lila Bragard, 17
Octavia Douglas, 17
Miguel Robledo Escobedo, 17
Gianna Machera, 17
Keira Mohammed, 17
Emi Sakamoto, 17
Mateo Torres, 17
Chukwuka Anuloha, 18
Raven Bradley, 18
Logan Henry, 18
Ada Meighan-Thiel, 18
Anthony Prieto, 18
Fernanda Vides, 18

The event, created by CCUSD School Board Member Triston Ezidore, is slated to be an annual feature at the end of the school year. Ezidore offered ” These young people demonstrate how impactful youth are in support of others through exemplary achievements in activism, leadership and service. The recipients [of these awards] are catalysts of change who have improved the quality of our schools and out community.”

The event was co-sponsored by Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove, State Senator Lola Smallwood Cuevas , Assemblymemeber Isaac Bryan, Assessor Jeff Prang, Culver City Vice Mayor Yasmine Imani McMorrin, Council member Freddy Puza and the CCUSD Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.  

Christian May-Suzuki for Culver Pride

The Actors' Gang