BY NUHA ISLAM
Watching Bruce Glasserman speak at a Harvard debate round is intimidating, to say the least. His speech is laced with a confidence achieved only by a seasoned professional, and his tone unyielding even when faced with top tier competitors, with no stutters, likes or um. It is hard not to pay attention to a voice like his.
It seems impossible that Glasserman has ever been anything but a top orator. But before high school, while he was still obsessed with politics, Glasserman considered himself to be a shy, introverted person. In fact, until age three he had a developmental disability where he didn’t speak. Today, however, his record includes over ten wins across the state of Florida and outside of it.
So what goes into forging a nationally recognized debater?
“Before Debate, I never felt like I had a voice,” Glasserman said. “But being in Debate has helped me to become the person I have always wanted to be.”
Glasserman is the president of CCHS Speech and Debate team and competes in Congressional Debate (Congress), a mock legislative assembly.
Within rounds, he delivers arguments on a medley of legislative bills, ranging from healthcare to minting a trillion dollar coin. While the speeches are capped at three minutes, true success is determined well before the tournaments begin. Each bill takes around over an hour of prep and tournaments can have upwards of 25 bills.
In active debate months like October where weekends are jammed with competition, that translates to 30 hours of prep per week – more work than a part time job.
“If I was not obsessed with politics, there is no way I could pull it off,” Glasserman said. “I started to truly question my political views when I got into high school, and that curiosity has propelled me since freshmen year.”
Well into his senior year of high school, Glasserman has made politics a central part of his schooling, having taken courses like AP U.S. History and AP U.S. Government and Politics, along with participating in the National Honor Society mock debate, playing both Libertarian Gary Johnson and then-Republican nominee Donald Trump. He plans to continue on this path by majoring in Political Science during college.
His love for politics also presented an opportunity to get involved in the 2016 election. As a passionate member of the Democratic Party, last year, he was an active participant in local lobbying for Hillary Clinton. As a volunteer, he spent time training volunteers in registering voters, as well as promoting grassroot movements.
“For 15 hours a week, I dedicated my heart and soul to campaigning, and I believe it was an extremely rewarding use of my time,” Glasserman said. “Even if I did not agree ideologically with some of the people I helped register, it is important that they have the ability to get a say in government policy. The best part is they are still registered for the next election. It has an impact beyond one election cycle.”
Civil involvement in election cycles is one way Glasserman promotes his personal philosophy that the government is there to benefit the people. One of his goals as a prospective policy maker is making sure disadvantaged groups are accounted for.
“There are individuals out there who need help from the government, and I see that as it is,” Glasserman said. “I feel disheartened by current discourse regarding many topics such as healthcare, immigration and LGBT rights. I think a lot of people get turned off from following current events because the discourse has become so convoluted.”
His community mindset can be traced back to his own upbringing. Given all that he has achieved, Glasserman maintains that he is just an average guy; one whose success is derived from a series of incredible opportunities.
“One of the things thats have helped foster my interests was getting reassigned into the Cooper City school system,” Glasserman said. “The difference was noticed immediately. Prior to that, I had been sent to the office two or three times because of dress code. That never sat right with me, that the clothing I wore was more important than the quality of my education. In Cooper City, they make sure you can be the best, and that is whether you are wearing khakis and a polo or a Bruce Springsteen band tee.”
Giving back to the community has been a central part of his extracurriculars.
“Bruce is one of the few students I have met who can successfully juggle his own workload while simultaneously lending help to others,” coach Wendy Schauben said. “He is a nationally recognized Congressional debater who spends a majority of his time mentoring middle school and freshman Debate students, that is rare to find. Plus, Bruce does all of this with a kind, approachable attitude that inspires students to find their voice.”
“He is one of my best friends, and he is very caring, to the point where he is able to make personal sacrifices in order to help others, which is an admirable quality in and of itself,” junior Kailey Roadruck said.
When he is not prepping for his next tournament, Glasserman is attentively following his favorite sports teams like the Miami Marlins, or watching late-night television. However, Bruce does not let temporary distractors take up too much time out of his busy schedule.
“He has always been very aware of the world around him, and proactive about things that interest him,” mother Isa Glasserman said. “He was never one to sit on the sidelines and let life take its course.”
The effort Bruce puts into his endeavors has reflected itself both in and out of Congress chambers. With more than three handfuls of awards, and a lengthy resume, Glasserman reflects on the secret to being a multi-tournament title holder: putting forth utmost effort and dedication into one’s craft, taking advantage of every prospect that comes one’s way.
Going forward, Glasserman plans to use his powerful voice as a force for good, both in personal relationships and public policy.
“I try to do good, and be good. And more than anything, I would say that is the value that has propelled me,” Glasserman said. “I am incredibly grateful to be given the chance to do something good with my life, and my advice to everyone is if you are shown opportunity take it. You never know where it will take you.”
Photo by Nuha Islam