UCSF Graduation Speech

The year was 1999, and N.A.S.A. launched the last of America’s deep space probes. In a freak mishap Ranger 3 and its pilot Captain William ‘Buck’ Rogers were blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which froze his life support systems, returning Buck Rogers to Earth five-hundred years later.

Oh, and it was also the year that I graduated from UCSF medical school.

My classmates at the time voted for graduation speakers, and knowing full well that I had very little frontal lobe left to prevent me from going off like a dirty bomb in the middle of downtown SF, they chose me as their weapon of mass destruction.

I’d never done ANY real public speaking until that day. Even scarier, I had written my original speech a few days prior, and in a fit of rage I tore it up a couple nights before graduation. So I started from scratch and cobbled this one together, with some bits stolen with permission from my trusty med school buddies Dr. Harry and Doc Quixote.

In my humble opinion, this diatribe nicely encapsulates the med school experience, an experience much akin to being frozen by temperatures beyond imagination and awakening 500 years later to meet an alien future. Only the special effects are better.

*Update: in May 2014, NPR listed this ridiculous speech as one of the top commencement addresses of all time! Suck it, Steve Jobs. (Dang it, he’s on the list too)

For brave souls, here’s the unedited “Director’s Cut”:

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  • Amazing – at 4 min 59 sec the dude behind you actually starts to laugh!\nFantastic speech mate.\nGlad you posted this!\nChris

    • The jolly old fella laughing at 4:59 was the Dean of UCSF at the time, Haile Debas. I think he only started paying attention when I mentioned his name prior to my made-up Churchill quote…tough crowd!

      • Hey – and what sort of trousers is the guy with the beard wearing? Are they onco-jeans?\nC

        • Since it’s Michael Bishop, I’m pretty sure they are ooo, la la, Sasoons…

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  • Chris

    Wait! The neurologist professor had a big rubber sledge hammer? That is too funny.\n\nAs a parent of a kid who had seizures, I am all to familiar with neurologists. They are a both brilliant and quirky (and that includes uber-nerd Dr. Steven Novella of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, and he is the most normal one I know!).

  • As one who suffered through law school, I can relate to the whole thrill ride of feeling very lucky, very exhausted, very discouraged, yet secretly knowing how very blessed you are to have the experience to be there in light of the fact you know 10 other people who did not get in. Rock on ZDogg, forever!! This is a priceless example of the embryonic ZDogg and one day when the ZPupps graduate from whatever school they choose to attend (but let’s face it, at least one is going to go to med school) , I have a feeling you will be in the front row rocking with laughter when they give their speech.

    • Wow, thanks Lorrie! We who have been through profession school share a certain PTSD…

  • calliope

    Dude, you are awesome! Don’t you have transcript for this speech because I can’t understand fully what you are saying. (English is not my mother language and I’m not very good at it).

    • Dude, thanks for the kind words! When I get a little time I’ll try to throw together a transcript.

      • Harrison Rogers

        I am having a little trouble with the definition you gave about crying like a little baby. I have to give a speech for my Lyceum 10 English class. This speech totally cracked me up. If you could help, that would be fantastic.

        • Crying like a baby = bilateral lacrimal hypersecretion. Good luck with your speech!

  • Sejin

    What did you say when your girlfriend called you?

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