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A Virtual Tribute, Academy Celebrates the Class of 2020

On Friday, May 15, the Iovine and Young Academy hosted its first-ever virtual celebration on behalf of the Class of 2020. The special event, hosted by Dean Erica Muhl, was a coming together of Academy faculty, staff, students, administration, founders, supporters, and partners expressing many heartfelt congratulations. During this unprecedented time of social distancing, the event reminded participants that they were a part of a greater community of change makers, risk takers, and visionaries who continue to push forward with boldness, passion, hard work, and humility to make a difference in the world.

Senior Jenny Chung celebrating with her sash in front of Iovine and Young Hall prior to stay-at-home orders.

Academy founders, Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, along with special guest Pharrell Williams surprised students with video messages and words of wisdom.

“This is where it begins. This is life,” said Pharrell Williams, one of the special guests during the celebration. “Besides, you’re going to be the ones who save us all anyways. So we need you.”

Jimmy Iovine encouraged students to be bold about their passions, but above, to be humble. “You need humility,” said Iovine. “It’s the greatest rope-a-dope there is,” he said.

Dr. Dre made a rare appearance for the momentous occasion to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of the Class of 2020. He emboldened students to continue to fearlessly press on. “I don’t mean this literally, it’s just a metaphor we use when we will not let anything or anyone get in the way of winning -- Keep it Gangsta,” said Dr. Dre as the final rallying call for the Class of 2020. “Congratulations and Fight On!”

Academy senior Aditi Harish posing with her graduation sash. 

Throughout the day, students celebrated the occasion by sharing graduation-from-home photos online.

The event also showcased messages from students, faculty and staff. Academy partners, adidas, Hot Wheels, Ernst and Young, and Brandless also celebrated the caliber of student work and ability. The blessings and words of encouragement not only marks the culmination of years of academic achievement but also signals the arrival of a new generation of entrepreneurs and innovators ready to face any challenge the world may throw at them. 

MSIDBT candidate Ishmael Lawrence shared his graduation photos on Instagram during the event.

Please note: The virtual celebration will not take the place of the traditional in-person ceremony which will be scheduled for a later date.

Watch IYA's full virtual celebration (ceremony starts at 5:00 min)
USC's main ceremony can be viewed here.