Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

Mentor and athlete at head of the class

Tommy Glasser is Rogers High School’s valedictorian. (Christopher Anderson)
Tommy Glasser is Rogers High School’s valedictorian. (Christopher Anderson)

When Phuong Doan came to Spokane from Vietnam some years back, she was a single parent with eight children. She met and married Bob Glasser, a father of three, and together they had two more children – of whom Tommy Glasser, 18, was born last.

Tommy Glasser, the youngest of 13 children, is about to graduate from Rogers High School. A quiet and unassuming young man, only when asked will he mention that yes, he does carry a 4.0 grade-point average, and, yes, he is the class valedictorian.

He is then quick to note that his sister Ng Huynh was valedictorian when she graduated from Rogers a few years ago, and that his siblings are doing well. He gives credit for much of his success to many people, especially his mother, whom he calls amazing.

“As small as she is, maybe 4-10, she impresses on me that I should do things well and has always been strong and supportive,” Glasser said. There are also coaches, godparents, his father and others to mention – but never does he pull the spotlight to himself.

Nancy Pemberton, career specialist at Rogers, says Glasser is “the nicest, most respectful student I know. He’s always willing to help, and if he says he’ll be there, you never have to worry. He’ll be there!”

In the community he embraces his culture by being on the lion dance team at the Buddhist church in Hillyard. Dancers don the head and torso of the lion and perform at a variety of events with the goal of bringing good luck and driving out bad spirits.

At Rogers, Glasser has been part of the Link Crew freshman mentor program and a member of the National Honors Society and DECA, an association for marketing students. He also participates in soccer and wrestling – and football.

“I played right guard, and at 160 pounds I’d be up against people who were 260,” Glasser said. “I’m kind of underweight, but I got the job done.”

He is especially glad to be getting the job done at Rogers. “I love this community of Hillyard,” he said, “and I love being at this school. Even though Hillyard and Rogers have had their share of adversity, it’s great to be here. I hope that what I do, my leadership work, can help make our community better.”

It is that natural, quiet leadership style – not to mention his grades and a lot of hard work – that netted some great college news for Glasser. He is among 48 Washington students receiving full scholarships to college this fall from the Act Six Leadership and Scholarship Initiative. Designed for emerging urban and community leaders, most of whom are first generation, ethnically diverse and low income, the scholarship was created to help students whose goal it is to make a difference in their communities.

Glasser will attend Whitworth University.

“There are important figures in my life I have strong attachments for, who have helped and guided me, who have been role models and examples for how to live,” he said. “I hope to do the same.”