Andres Ramos won his first race for public office when he was still a senior at USC in 2007, making the then-22-year-old among the youngest elected officials in California.
But shortly after securing a seat on the Compton Community College District Board of Trustees, Ramos thought: "What have I done?"
The board was stripped of its power by state legislators a decade ago after widespread corruption at the campus. Like the rest of the five-member board, Ramos sat in the audience after his election while a state-appointed administrator ran the meeting.
Even today, board members can't officially vote or attend confidential, closed sessions. At times, they were even discouraged from participating in meetings.
"It made me wonder 'why did I run for this? What am I doing?'" he said.