A third student won the annual Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award for his determination to lead a prosperous and independent life in the face of a disease that results in the progressive deterioration of muscle mass.
Purdue chairman Mitch Daniels has selected Kyle Albertson, a College of Agriculture senior who is expected to graduate on May 15, as the most recent scholarship recipient in his third performance after Trent’s death as a result of osteosarcoma on January 1, 2019, according to a Purdue press release.
Alberton was diagnosed with congenital muscular dystrophy at the age of 9 months. The disease, which is caused by genetic mutations, gradually weakens people over time through the degeneration of voluntary muscles.
The Fowler, Indiana resident uses his wheelchair, cell phone and computer mouse with the help of technology. Searching for specialists and getting the right training, Albertson added an unlikely item to this list: his pickup truck.
“Since I was 13, all I dreamed of was being able to drive,” he told Purdue News. “For over six months my mom and I traveled to Louisville to train until I got my 50 hours of driving and could pass the driving test.
“Five days before my 18th birthday, I got my driver’s license, all after a more than two-year battle for someone to give me a chance to prove myself.”
He drives a modified van with a joystick, which works the same as the device he uses to operate his wheelchair, according to the press release.
A graduate of Agribusiness with a concentration in Management, Albertson excelled professionally during his time at Purdue.
He started his own agricultural drone services business, becoming the first licensed drone spraying contractor in Indiana, the statement said. He did two summer internships during which he gained experience in the use of drones before starting his own business.
Albertson’s use of drones started out as a personal interest, he told the agricultural economics department for a profile. But with ample time in isolation last spring, he listened to a podcast on innovation in agriculture and heard about an Iowa drone company that piqued his interest.
By July, Albertson drone service officially open for business. He said he plans to expand the business after graduation.
“I had an interest in finding ways to get cool images from different angles,” he said, “and that turned into crop health monitoring and then pest management by applying pesticides with drones. “
The Tyler Trent Prize is awarded to undergraduate students who have encountered severe physical limitations or similar adversity in their pursuit of higher education, the statement said. A committee of Honors College students selects five nominees for the annual award, and the President of Purdue selects the winner.
Trent’s death at the age of 20 in 2019 rocked the nation and especially the sports world. His legacy at Purdue is marked by his passion for football and his fundraising for cancer research, which inspired the creation of organizations like the Tyler Trent Cancer Research Endowment at Purdue and a similar research fund at Riley Children’s. Hospital.
Sean English, now a junior at the College of Liberal Arts, was the first recipient of the Tyler Trent Award in 2019, two years after losing his leg after being hit by a car. Last year, the award went to Kamryn Dehn, whose physical complications forced her to learn to walk again.
“Kyle’s mental toughness and his ability to achieve fullness in life, despite obstacles, is all that the Tyler Trent Award stands for,” Daniels said of Albertson. “He defines a Boilermaker: a person who overcomes true adversity and sets an example for others. “