Fitz column mug

David Fitzsimmons, Tucson’s most beloved ink-stained wretch.

I’ve given many graduation speeches over the years. Here are my greatest hits:

Commencement Speech, Baja Science Academy:

“In these challenging times, you have to ask yourself, was the tassel worth the hassle?

As I look out upon your sea of faces, I think of our seas, and how badly my generation has screwed up the oceans — and the entire planet — and I just want to say I’m sorry we’re handing you the keys to a Hummer we drove straight into a ditch, pedal to the metal, with an empty tank and now it’s caught on fire, with Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” looping on the CD player.

Enjoy the road ahead in that beauty. And future baristas of America, could this boomer get a French vanilla latte with extra cream to go on my way out?”

Commencement Address, US Border Patrol, Bad Apple Sector:

“This U.S. Border Patrol class of 2019 is the finest group of professionals I’ve ever seen.

Few appreciate how challenging your task is: To catch people at least one of your colleagues has called ‘subhuman.’

Honor the badge. Have a beautiful Arizona day.”

Commencement Address, University of Western Arizona:

“Your graduating committee should have picked a student-loan officer to be your graduation speaker because they’re success stories. And they’re hilarious. ‘Knock, knock.’

‘Who’s there?’

‘Creditors. Open up. We’re repossessing your futon, your laptop, your smartphone, your hybrid unicycle and your barista apron.’

Ben Franklin said, ‘Investment in knowledge pays the best interest.’ Lightning must have fried Ben’s brain because you’ll all be paying so much interest on your ‘investment in knowledge’ by next year you’ll be using your mortar board as a tin cup and the backside of your diploma as an ‘Anything helps. I’m Homeless.’ sign.

The smart ones are already writing ‘Vote for Change’ on the backs of theirs.”

Commencement, Flowing Arroyo High:

“This year tragedy was averted thanks to you, the brave kids who spoke up, and the students who charged the shooters each time. Weren’t those lockdowns unforgettable?

Welcome parents, students and survivors.

How many of you are armed right now?

Wow. Really.

I never heard 278 guns cock at the same time. Unless I’m hearing cricket clickers.

In ‘The Graduate,’ young Dustin Hoffman is given life advice by an adult at a cocktail party.

‘Ben. Ben. Ben.’

‘Mr. Maguire?’

‘I want to talk to you, Ben. I just want to say one word to you. Are you listening, Ben?’

‘Yes, sir.’


Today, to you, the class of 2019, I just want to say one word: Kevlar.

We know you’ll all go on to do great things. Many of you are going on to gun-free campuses. Good luck with that. Traumatic stress and nightmares aside, you’ll march and lobby and grow disillusioned with the system, but, hey, that bitterness is a long way off — so tonight let’s party!

On your way out, pick up your voters guide and free gun lock and say hello to the wounded students in wheelchairs against the gym wall.”

My 17th commencement that day:

“It’s bad enough we have to sit through 1,657 names being mispronounced by a mumbling school board member into a bad Stalin-era P.A. system when we get done yakking up here. So here goes the shortest graduation speech. Ever.

‘Think of all the places you will go.’ I could not have said it better than that. Particularly if there’s a military draft and you don’t have bone spurs.

Congratulations Class of 2019!”

Commencement Address, Tortolita Online University:

“I hope you’ve all learned the most important lessons one can learn in life. If opportunity doesn’t knock, install a doorbell on your face. Dare to dream the dreams you dreamt before life told you, in a dream, that your dreams were just dreams.

“And never mistakenly hit reply all when ridiculing your online instructor.”

Commencement Address, University of Arizona:

“As president of your nearby Southwest University Neighborhood Association, I want to say to all the student renters out there who love a fun party — and I like a fun party as much as the next person — I want to wish you all godspeed as you move out of the rental next door. Remember. scraping the red sticker off the window is your responsibility. Hey, quiet down! All right! Who threw that bottle?”

Commencement Address, Tempe State:

“In the words of Baz Luhrman, ‘Floss, stretch and wear sunscreen.’ Best thing you can do in this life is wear sunscreen all over your entire body.

Right now I’m wearing sunscreen under this suit and I’m sweating like a heifer in a livestock chute heading to Hannibal Lecter’s Burger Town, but I don’t care because the cool squishy sensation makes life beautiful. When I run out of sunscreen, I use mayonnaise. I have some on my feet under my socks. Same wonderful cool sensation! Try forgetting that speech. Congratulations Class of 2019!”

David Fitzsimmons: