Friday, March 13, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: Remembering Chris Glaser

Megan Gorey

College is about finding yourself, as a student and a person. I’ve heard so many studies and statistics about the average number of times that students will change their majors. I started as a freshman in 2005 at Kent State University majoring in American Sign Language (ASL). My best friend since the 4th grade, Anna, is deaf and I fell in love with the language and emotion that went into communicating with the deaf community.

When Anna joined the speech and debate team at KSU, I joined with her. From there I changed my major to Communication Studies. I kept ASL as my minor. I became addicted to learning more about body language and nonverbal cues. It is true – there is so much that can be heard from what we don’t say. A major part of sign language is not the signs themselves, but the facial and body expression used to sign them. For example, there is one sign to say “What's up?” But the eyebrows, shoulder position, and look on your face can make the difference between “What’s up/what’s going on?” and “What’s up with that?”

You Stay Flashy, Kent State
As I advanced and won tournaments on the speech and debate team (better known as forensics) I learned that I had a natural talent for public speaking. Even though I’m sure you could ask any of my elementary school teachers who would tell you that I’ve always been a talker. I decided to change my major to broadcast journalism and auditioned for the lead anchor position at Kent’s TV2 News station.

With no experience at all, and pretty much trying out on a whim – I got the spot. I went on the air live at 5:30PM to all of Portage County. I remember the first time I sat in the anchor chair for my first night on air. It felt organic. I’ve never felt so natural and passionate about my education and career. I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. And being recognized at the grocery store as the girl from the news station didn’t hurt either.

Chris Glaser
Through the forensics circuit, I met Chris Glaser. He competed for the Ohio University team and we instantly formed a friendly, but competitive, relationship. We would tease each other between rounds but he always saw such potential in me and even gave me advice outside of the competition – even when we competed against each other. Chris talked to the OU’s forensic coach, Dan West, and he eventually offered me a scholarship at Ohio University.

After a very long and complicated application and transfer process, I was accepted to Ohio University and The E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. On the day that I got my acceptance letter, Chris sent me a bouquet of flowers to Kent. They were white daisies (my favorite flower) in a daisy vase with black and white polka dots.

Forensicators Unite
I joined the OU forensics team and came to Athens two weeks before school started for speech camp. I lived with Chris since I couldn’t move into my apartment and began preparing to compete with my fellow Bobcats. Although I didn’t stay with the forensics team because of school work loads and family obligations, Chris Glaser was one of the major deciding factors on my transfer to Ohio University. Without his encouragement, I don't know if I'd be here today - or even writing this blog.

Chris lost his three year battle with a rare form of heart cancer last Wednesday.

I had recently text messaged him, teasing him about the Pittsburgh Steelers, since I’m a die-hard Cleveland Browns fan (no matter how many horrible years we have). Chris always said that he ‘bled Black and Gold.’ His passing came as a total shock and left me stunned when I received the call from a fellow forensics member.

Not Just An Interview
I’ve always believed that we cross paths with people for a reason. The day that Chris died I had an interview scheduled with Lyda Gunter in Glouster. It wasn’t the information she gave me for the story or what kind of video I got for the day, but how she touched my life after the interview. Lyda, a spiritual person, could see that I was hurting. She didn’t have to reach out to me, but she did. She used the metaphor that we are all sparks coming from one light source. And sometimes – our sparks collide, if even for just one moment.

I left the interview with a feeling of comfort that consumed me. It was hard to put my personal life aside and continue to be a reporter. But for that one moment, our spark collided. And I felt better for it. In an email she wrote me later that week, Lyda said,

“The passing of time permits the reasoning & the awareness of "why". These subtle realizations might come by inches and degrees – or in mere moments. Personally, I've had such epiphanies months or years down the road, but always there is a purpose in the event directly related to the moment of occurrence.”

The Reason
Chris offered more to this world than could ever be put into words. He changed the lives of countless people in Athens, Ohio, and abroad. Yet, every day that I walk into a newsroom or read a script for a newscast, I know that I am here because of him.

I will forever be grateful for him.

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