ASB President Tom Fitzgerald named this year’s Commencement Speaker

Whitney Clark, Whitney Clark, and Whitney Clark

Student Senate President Tom Fitzgerald knows that change can be overwhelming.

He spent his life surrounded by snowcapped mountains in Utah. But since moving to Santa Barbara two years ago, the beachside City College campus has been his home.

“I had gone to private school my whole life so [moving here] was like, ‘Oh my gosh! These people are wearing normal clothes!'” Fitzgerald said.

Hailing from Salt Lake City, Fitzgerald is excited to be this year’s commencement speaker and is the first ASB president to be selected in the past 10 years.

“I was completely shocked,” he said. “I thought there was no way in the world I would be picked.”

Fitzgerald joined the senate in January of last year after being encouraged by roommate and senate officer Doug Montgomery.

“I had never done anything like it in high school,” said Fitzgerald. “I fell in love with it.”

Although Fitzgerald said he never saw himself as a leader, he has been able to accomplish a number of goals on the senate. One of which is opening up the idea of a student vote on all campus-wide committees.

“The fact that I brought it to the Academic Senate shows that the student voice is really willing to be involved in campus affairs,” he said.

Bridging the gap between the administration and the students has been important to Fitzgerald, and he credits Ann Frysile, the Director of the Office of Student Life for much of the success he has had on the senate.

“She has definitely been my backbone,” Fitzgerald said. “She knows the ins and outs of this college like anyone I’ve ever seen.”

Fryslie has worked closely with Fitzgerald and said that he has been an “absolute pleasure” to work with. She also said that she feels that he has done an excellent job at representing the student body.

“The thing about Tom is that there can be a lot of apathy at community colleges and he never let it get him down,” Fryslie said. “He never let it effect him.”

Most presidents have their own styles and often use their own personalities, and Frysile said Fitzgerald was always extremely personable.

“He really led example and never became frustrated,” she said. “He always had a good outlook and that was contagious.”

When Fitzgerald isn’t at committee meetings or running around on campus, he works in the Transfer Center. With the knowledge he gained working there, Fitzgerald was accepted to the University of California, Berkeley.

Even though Fitzgerald is an English major, he is passionate about theatre and did a lot of acting in high school. Last year he was involved in City College’s production of “Ambition Facing West.”

“A lot of times I would just go in there and watch the rehearsals cause I was so enthralled,” Fitzgerald said.

In addition to school plays in high school, Fitzgerald did a lot of extra work. He was even an extra in Disney’s “High School Musical.”

Despite his love for theatre Fitzgerald hopes to one day become an author or a professor.

“Working on campus with different teachers and faculty and seeing all the behind the scenes work of what happens in the classroom has really inspired me,” he said.

Considering all that he has accomplished, Fitzgerald said transitioning from “the bubble” of Salt Lake City to the diverse Santa Barbara might have been difficult, but it allowed him to morph from a follower, into a leader.

“[Santa Barbara] is so completely different from Utah I was really overwhelmed but at the same time I was inspired to make the best of it which I think I’ve hopefully accomplished,” said Fitzgerald.