By Michelle Davey
It's not hard to read Ohio University senior Chris Glaser. His enthusiasm for his work, his interests and his hobbies shines through in his voice alone.
"He speaks with a total passion about the things he loves," said Dan West, the John A. Cassese Director of Forensics, who met Glaser while interviewing for the director's position in 2005 and then worked with him on the Forensics Speech and Debate Team when Glaser joined the following year. "I was impressed with his desire to be excellent in everything he does."
Glaser has exhibited that excellence in myriad ways during his time at Ohio University. He will graduate cum laude this Saturday, receiving a bachelor's degree in journalism.
He was a member of the debate team that ranked 11th in the nation this year after winning second in its division at the National Forensics Association Championship Tournament, where he was a semi-finalist in the Impromptu Speaking category.
This year, he also earned honors as a member of the All-American Forensics Association team. In 2006, he had the opportunity to take part in the American Advertising Foundation Vance and Betty Lee Stickell Internship Program, serving 10 weeks that summer at the Leo Burnett advertising company in Chicago.
But his success has not come without a fight. Glaser has battled a hardship few college students confront -- cancer.
"It's not something you expect to face," Glaser said, referring to the rare form of cancer that has been attacking his heart. Still, he has remained enthusiastic about his life and his work.
"Even when he's down, his passion comes through in the end. That's what has kept him going through the hard times," said West, who sometimes sat at the hospital with Glaser and supported him during chemotherapy treatments.
Glaser has created great memories during his time at Ohio University and on the debate team, and his debate tournament successes are some of his fondest.
"I learned that my happiness and my ability to go out there and have fun and do things that I love don't have to depend on my circumstances," Glaser said. "You can't stop living just because you're facing something like cancer.
"I had a lot of fun competing and getting to know my teammates," Glaser said. But perhaps the best part was "the opportunity to compete with the best speakers in the nation and prove that I am among them," he said.
His hardest moments? Twice he had to take a break from his studies to undergo heart surgery. Glaser returned from his second surgery in March after taking winter quarter off, a break that was especially tough.
"I always want to be going and doing something," Glaser said, "And to have to take time away from school -- that's really challenging."
While away, Glaser volunteered with his high school's debate team in Louisville, Ohio, said brother Dan Glaser, another decorated member of Ohio University's debate team.
"He wanted to be there to help people, and he was always there to help me when I needed him," Dan said. "And he still came back to (college) and finished. I can't imagine going through all that he's had to go through, and he's still stayed such a great person."
Glaser's parents and four siblings have been his biggest motivators, he said, noting the support Dan has provided at home and at school.
And the report on his health is positive since his last surgery, but cancer will always be a worry.
Soon to be an alumnus, Glaser is ready for a whole different type of challenge: finding an employment opportunity that suits him. Those closest to him say there's no doubt he'll approach that -- and the job that awaits -- with the same enthusiasm and zeal for which he's been known on campus.
Updated at 1:58 p.m. June 12, 2008. Glaser's degree will be a bachelor's of journalism and his sequence was advertising management.