I’m Earning a College Degree from Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine‘s School at USC — Part 1

And no, I’m not learning how to rap.

In 2018, thirty other students and I will be the first to graduate with a B.S. in Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation from the Iovine Young Academy at USC.

A picture from the first time we all met. This was also the first time we were able to see our brand new, state of the art workspace affectionately known as “The Garage.” It soon became our second home and some of us may or may not have spent a night or two sleeping on the bean bags after a long day of hard work…

The program is the first of its kind to have an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes classes in three very different areas: art and design; engineering and computer science; and business and venture management. Basically, the very skills you would want as a young entrepreneur.

About a month ago, I wrapped up my first year of college and if you had told me during high school that my life would soon include pitching stories to editors at WIRED, a magazine I’ve been subscribed to since 6th grade, having my classes interrupted with surprise visits from the likes of Evan Spiegel and Scott Borchetta, and casually laser-cutting Christmas presents for my roommates, I would have screamed at you to get out of my room and just let me study for AP Statistics.

So how did I get here?

I sure didn’t set out with this major in mind.

In fact, the major I applied to at every other college?


Growing up, I never was able to stick with one answer about what I wanted to do when I was older for very long.

A movie director! I told my parents in elementary school as I lugged a camcorder around everyday, making short films using my helpless younger brother as my sole star.

A senator! I began telling them in high school as I wrote passionate letters on the Disability Rights Movement to my representatives in office, becoming one of those kids at your door asking for a few minutes of your time (except I was perhaps more annoying as I didn’t have delicous cookies for sale).

A programmer! My tune changed again after taking several computer science classes and getting hooked on the delight that came with the launch of my first website.

One thing always held me back though. In the back of mind, I knew I never wanted to have to choose between my passions and struggled with the thought of having to pick just one thing to focus on for four years. Neglect my other passions while getting a degree in just one of them? It seemed crazy.

That’s why when I pulled up the USC website to do another perusal of majors, one press release stopped me in my tracks.

“Music Industry Icons and Entrepreneurs Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre Give $70 Million to Create the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation”

I bookmarked it and immediately sent it to my friend, Ema.

I scrolled through a year’s worth of texts for this screenshot. #Dedication

A few months later, I received an email with the following video attached.

And the rest, they say, is history.

This is the first post in a series. Stay tuned to hear about what the Garage space is really like (hint: 3D printing has a longgg way to go), how I built and raced a cardboard boat in 48 hours, and what happens when you put 31 troublemakers in all the same classes with just each other for a year.

Caitlin Tran is a sleeptalker, much to the annoyance of her lovely roommates. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and of course, Medium.

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