Ben Fritz finds his voice
Lakeville North graduate has military aspirations
Lakeville North High School graduate Ben Fritz wants to go nuclear.
“After college, I’ll be commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy,” Fritz said. “I’m hoping to be put on a nuclear submarine.”
North’s 2012 commencement speaker plans to get there through rigorous study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, double-majoring in nuclear engineering and physics and minoring in naval science.
Add to that a planned stint in the Navy ROTC and Fritz appears to be a man with a road map to fulfilling his dreams.
He has set forth on this path through hard work and the art of speaking.
“ ‘Finding your voice’ revolves around a personal story,” Fritz said of the theme of his graduate message.
He spent his early years afflicted with a speech impediment.
“I couldn’t pronounce my Rs and Ls,” Fritz said. “I was made fun of for that by a camp counselor. I never noticed it before, but after that it really affected me a lot.”
As a result, he stopped talking.
“My grades dropped because I never asked any questions,” he said. “I didn’t have any friends because I didn’t talk. I didn’t want to relive that embarrassment.”
His mother would encourage him to “find his voice.”
“She always told me every day, ‘Ben, you have a voice, you just have to use it,’ ” Fritz said.
Another source of inspiration for Fritz was his speech coach Jenn Baese.
He joined the speech team his freshman year, he said, because he “was sick of how my life was going. I learned how to speak up for myself.”
“Speech has been the biggest activity I’ve been in,” he said. “(Baese has) been a big part of my life and really walked me through the whole way.”
In addition to the speech team, Fritz was involved in the National Honor Society and was the senior class president.
Fritz said he loves trapshooting and archery, especially when a “mag and scopes” are involved.
His biggest inspiration outside of school is his grandfather.
“I just really look up to him and everything he’s done,” Fritz said. “He was a World War II vet, had four really successful kids … has been married for 70 years and turned 90 last week.”
“He loves life,” Fritz said. “I really respect that.”
Fritz’s ultimate message to his classmates was one of realism.
“As you leave high school and go into the real world, realize it isn’t necessarily forgiving,” he said. “You have to speak up for yourselves.”