By Ramon Lontok
“I know politics has chosen me,” Jason Troia said. “Politics is kind of intoxicating and I think most people can’t give up politics after they’ve been in it.”
At the age of seven, Troia had already cemented himself in the unfamiliar territory of politics. Since then, the LBCC student trustee’s life has been a web of political experiences, both on and off campus.
On Flex Day, Wednesday, March 6, while many students took a break from classes, Troia, now 32, was on campus, along with other student leaders, to meet 29 state senators who visited the LAC.
Troia, a double major in English literature and history, who cites Vladimir Nabokov as his favorite writer, grew up in a politically-active family. Although the student trustee, who had his abstract on media bias recently published, has admitted his love for writing, he said he wouldn’t be surprised if he ventures into politics after finishing his education.
With aspirations to transfer to Yale and a mantra of “Yale or bust,” Troia said he admires his grandfather’s uncle, E. Luther Copeland, who received his Ph.D. from Yale and published several books in his time. Troia said he recently discovered his relation to Copeland and was surprised how their “educational paths are close to each other,” seeing that his grandfather’s uncle also had a background in English literature and history.
Allison Murray Pop, an English teacher at LBCC who Troia considers his mentor, said she is very proud of the student trustee for the work he has contributed to the college. She also described the Yale aspirant as a humble person who often doesn’t listen to his good press.
“He is a very rare student who is incredibly passionate, not only with his education, but also about the welfare of his fellow students,” Pop said, before jokingly adding that she’s pretty sure the student trustee only sleeps two hours every night with the amount of work he has taken.
Despite his successes, Troia said he hasn’t always been a good student and that he was a “troubled young person” who faced a lot of problems growing up.
During his sophomore year at an all-boys Catholic high school, Troia came out regarding his sexuality while giving a presentation on homophobia, becoming a bullied teen as a result.
“Some students made it difficult and targeted me after that with harsh words and harassment,” Troia said.
However, Troia said the president of his school rallied to his defense and gave him a parking space overlooking his office after an incident where a couple of students busted his car window. Troia asserted how his experiences overall helped transform him into an activist and why he feels strongly about what he’s fighting for at LBCC.
“Being silenced is my biggest fear,” said Troia. “I’ve had so many people who have tried to silence me and they didn’t even try to be tactful about it. It’s something I won’t allow to happen to me or to other people.”
Aside from being a writer, activist and a student leader, Troia also has a background in culinary arts, having graduated from the California Culinary Academy back in 2001. For a couple of years, Troia worked as a pastry chef for restaurants such as The Village Pub in Woodside and the now defunct Palo Alto branch of the Wolfgang Puck restaurant, Spago.
As for his romantic life, Troia said he has been single for five years and that perhaps when his life is in order, he would like to have a family of his own, factoring in his upbringing in what he described as a “close-knit Sicilian family.”
When speaking about the student trustee, Andrea Donado, 28, a gender studies major and a friend of Troia, said, “Jason’s amazing. I’ve been working with him since his student trusteeship and he has taught me a lot.”
Donado, who is also the PCC Cultural Affairs President, further added that as an activist, she “couldn’t be doing anything” if it weren’t for Troia, to which Troia smiled and said, “In fairness, you helped me a lot, too.”
In regards to his writing, Troia said he is currently in the process of writing three books, one of which he said will chronicle his last year at LBCC and his time in office as student trustee.
Troia said for him writing means immortalizing a person and about not being forgotten.
“I want to be remembered after I’m gone,” said Troia. “I want people to say, ‘I knew him. I was there when he made things happen.’”