2019 Commencement Speaker: Craig Dietz
The Speaker for Commencement 2019 on Friday, May 10, will be Craig Dietz, ’99. Dietz was born in 1974, in the rural Pennsylvania town of St. Marys. Despite being born without limbs, he had a very active childhood, bowling in a league, hunting, fishing, playing percussion in the high school band, and graduating high school on the honor society.
Dietz graduated from Duquesne University in 1996, with a BA in Political Science. While at Duquesne, he was very active with the Campus Ministry and a member of the Delta Chi Fraternity. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1999, and passed the PA Bar Exam on his first attempt without any special accommodations. Dietz worked as an Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Harrisburg from 2000 - 2006. From 2006 -2010, Dietz worked as a litigation attorney for the City of Pittsburgh.
In addition to bowling, hunting, fishing, skiing and playing volleyball, Dietz always had a passion for swimming. But it wasn’t until 2008 that he decided to start training for long distance open water swimming and finished the 1500 meter Allegheny River swim in 40:20 as part of a relay team in the Pittsburgh Triathlon. That one race was all it took for him to become hooked on the competition of triathlon and open water swimming.
Dietz has competed in the Pittsburgh Triathlon every year since 2008. In 2012, he finished the swim in 29:14, faster than more than 150 able-bodied competitors. Also in 2012, he became the first quadruple amputee to swim across the Chesapeake Bay, finishing the 4.4 mile rough water swim in just under 3 hours. In 2013 Dietz finished a 1.5 mile “escape” from Alcatraz swim in 54:37. In the Summer of 2016, Dietz completed his first 10K (6.2 mi.) open water swim, and in 2017 he competed in the Midmar Mile swim in South Africa, swimming a total of 7 miles over 2 days.
His parents, two sisters, and brother have been extremely supportive of all his activities throughout his life. His family was particularly instrumental in getting driving lessons for him and purchasing a van equipped for him to drive. Dietz has lived independently since graduating from high school, and currently resides in Harrisburg, PA, with his wife, Christy and their dog, Rocco.
His story has been featured on the Marie Osmond Show, Fox News, ESPN’s television show, E:60, as well as ESPN The Magazine and several local print and television news media outlets. For more than 10 years, Dietz has been challenging and inspiring audiences with his life story of perseverance, and his unique blend of humor and candor.
Learn more at craigdietzspeaks.com.