Graduates reflect on their time at IYA

Graduating students wearing red sash standing by horse statue

On Thursday, May 13 and Friday, May 14, the Academy will celebrate the classes of 2020 and the 2021 in a dual commencement celebration that will surely be one for the history books.

This year, USC celebrates not one, but two years’ worth of academic achievements. At the Academy, where students often forge collaborations across cohorts, celebrating both graduating classes feels uniquely fitting, and allows for the sharing of memories these students made together over the years. Across various team projects, Industry Labs, and extracurricular activities, these two classes have made lifelong friendships, networks, and learned to iterate, fail, and succeed, as one.

The Classes of 2020 and 2021 left few boundaries unexplored. From building the cloud-based healthcare app Frontida; or designing Nomi, an app with a fresh take on the food services industry; to pioneering a new model for live and virtual event funding through EventFund; or creating 10ure, an app helping maritime-based job seekers, these are just some of the projects, among many, that were born from or refined during the pandemic.

Over the past year, graduate student Candace Walker, along with the help of her classmates, developed Just Us, an app to safeguard and encourage community activism. Senior Kaitlyn Chu seized the moment to write a book to bring light and love to kids facing an unfamiliar world of masks. In 2020 and 2021, graduating students showed that even in the most challenging of constraints, their creative spirit comes out ahead.

As the Academy community prepares to gather in recognition of these and many other accomplishments, a few graduating students take a moment to reflect and share some parting messages.

Congratulations and Fight On!

Two female graduating students wearing white dress and red sash

Ally Klionsky, Class of 2021
B.S. Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation
"So proud of C4 and can't wait to watch everyone change the world!"

Two males standing by outdoor table and monitor

Nelson Abreu, Class of 2020
M.S. Integrated Design, Business and Technology
"For me, the commencement ceremony is an opportunity to reconnect with inspiring, purpose-filled colleagues and the creative energy of USC IYA that I’m already missing!"

Graduating male with 2 red sashes
Graduating male smiling

Xavier Hernandez, Class of 2020
M.S. Integrated Design, Business and Technology
"The start is just a moment, but chasing your dreams lasts forever! No matter where you started, go out there and make your dreams come true y'all! Shoutout to everyone in IYA who made this experience great! And shoutout to my farmworker community and my family!"

Female with short hair and yellow dress
Masked female looking to the side

Jamae Lucas, Class of 2021
M.S. Integrated Design, Business and Technology
“I started this program as an uncertain basket of nerves with a serious case of imposter syndrome and graduated as a confident business owner with a world-class network. Thank you IYA."

Back of female graduating student with word badass embroidered on sash
Graduating female student wearing white dress and red sash

Elly Berge, Class of 2021
B.S. Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation
“I always thought about graduating, it sort of finally felt like I’d be free. As it came closer, I got somewhat scared. As I have thought more about it, both IYA and USC have shaped me so that I can continue the journey I started in college. I have been supported, challenged, and appreciated by my peers and the faculty, and for them, I am forever grateful. To finally be graduating is not the end, it is just the beginning. A beginning that I am now excited and ready for.”

Graduating student standing on paddle board
Graduating student with cap and gown standing by water

Inge Lindholm, Class of 2021
M.S. Integrated Design, Business and Technology

"I believe the saying goes, 'It doesn’t matter how many times you fall off. The only thing that counts Is how many times you get back up.'"

Male holding a cardboard prototype

Matthew Peters, Class of 2021
M.S. Integrated Design, Business and Technology
“Graduating from the Academy in 2021 means using this new knowledge and perspective to create positive change in this tumultuous world.”

Woman standing in the park

Jacqueline McGraw, Class of 2021 
M.S. Integrated Design, Business and Technology
“It was fun to learn with such a talented group of creators. If we work hard, we can change the world! Let us blossom in summer’s sun. ♥️”

Subscribe to our Newsletter