Former ASI President Now Working on Music's Biggest Stage
By Brian Hiro
Kenny Tran almost had to pinch himself to remind him that it was real.
A few months earlier, Tran had been living at home in Mira Mesa, trying to find a job after graduating from Cal State San Marcos the previous spring. Now here he was, dressed to the nines and walking a red carpet outside of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in April 2022, with the South Korean boy band BTS in front of him and, whoa, was that Dua Lipa who just walked by?
At the star-studded Grammy Awards, the biggest night in music, Tran might have felt like an imposter. But he belonged, having been hired that February by the Recording Academy, the Los Angeles-based company that stages the Grammys and supports musical artists year-round.
“It was so surreal,” Tran said. “It was a great experience, and being thrown into any environment for the first time is the best way to learn. You have to be quick on your feet and adjust.”
Putting to good use both his CSUSM marketing degree and his stint as president of Associated Students, Inc., during the 2019-20 school year, Tran is partnerships coordinator for the Recording Academy. In that role, he works with businesses that have interest in teaming up with the academy. At the 2022 Grammys, for instance, he sat in a suite with representatives from Hilton and Roblox, the online game platform.
“My team likes to think about true partnerships,” Tran said. “Not just a sponsorship or throwing a logo on, but trying to come up with something meaningful and innovative.”
Tran first got a taste for live music events, and for ASI, during his first two years at CSUSM. As a member of the campus activities board, he was part of the team that inaugurated Festival 78 on campus. That sampling of student government made him want more, and by his senior year he was elected president.
It was already going to be a momentous year with the summer hiring of new university president Ellen Neufeldt. Then, in March 2020, soon after Tran returned from Sacramento for a trip to lobby for financial aid reform, a virus called COVID-19 reared its ugly head.
The nascent virus meant that he couldn’t check off all his goals, but he’s still proud about what he and his fellow ASI executives did accomplish, including advancing student holistic wellness as an institutional priority and helping make the distribution of COVID relief funds more equitable.
“Being in ASI, going from a volunteer to president, really transformed my college experience,” Tran said. “The way I lead now is directly attributable to my experience as a leader at CSUSM.”
Brian Hiro, Communications Specialist
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