WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Kyle Albertson is performing. But for him, being successful in the day-to-day activities that most people take for granted requires determination, ingenuity, endurance, and a lot of extra effort.
The most recent recipient of the Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award from Purdue University embodies everything Trent has shown in fighting cancer and influencing people in myriad ways.
Albertson, diagnosed at 9 months old with congenital muscular dystrophy, which causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass, struggled – and overcame – challenges few people even have to consider. As he prepares to graduate Saturday May 15 from Purdue’s College of Agriculture, here are some of his hard-earned accomplishments:
- Started his own agricultural drone service business, becoming the first licensed drone spraying contractor in Indiana.
- Through two years of perseverance and perseverance, he learned to drive and obtained his driver’s license.
- Did two summer internships related to the use of drones in agriculture.
“Kyle’s mental toughness and his ability to achieve fullness in life, despite obstacles, is all that the Tyler Trent Prize stands for,” said Purdue University President Mitch Daniels. “It defines a Boilermaker, a person who overcomes true adversity and sets an example for others. I am inspired by its story; How not to be.
Daniels surprised Albertson with the honor during a virtual conference call between Albertson and his pedagogical advisers. As Daniels made the video call, the recipient’s family members joined in in the surprise.
Albertson, a senior from Fowler, Indiana, specializing in agribusiness with a concentration in management, is the essence of the Trent Prize, Daniels said.
With the help of technology, Albertson uses his wheelchair, van, cell phone, and computer mouse. His resilience is reflected in his efforts to be able to drive, which required a combination of finding specialists, getting the right equipment, and the right training. He is now able to drive a modified van with a joystick, the same way his wheelchair works.
“Since I was 13, all I dreamed of was being able to drive,” he said. “For over six months, my mom and I traveled to Louisville for training until I got my 50 hours of driving and could take the driving test. Five days before my 18th birthday, I got my driver’s license. All after a battle of over two years for someone to give me a chance to prove myself.
Since then, Albertson has continued to prove himself as a student and entrepreneur. In addition to his summer internships, he is involved with the FFA and 4-H. His drone company specializes in photography, crop monitoring, drone spraying, and drone spraying, and is the first licensed drone spraying contractor in Indiana. He plans to continue growing the business after graduation. Learn more about Albertson.
“Kyle is a remarkable young man who has accomplished so much despite enormous physical challenges,” said Andy Oppy, associate director of academic and career counseling services in the Department of Agricultural Economics, who nominated Albertson for the award. “His approach to his academic career and his life in general has been an inspiration to his peers, myself and our department and all who came in contact with him.”
Trent died in January 2019 at the age of 20 after a long battle with cancer. Before his death, he earned an associate’s degree in information technology from Purdue and founded Teens With a Cause, which recruits young people to carry out service projects for families affected by cancer. He joined the Dance Marathon Club, a student organization that raises funds and awareness at the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, where he received treatment. He was also named Honorary Football Team Captain for the Purdue Hammer Down Cancer Game in 2018 and was the first student member of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research Advancement Board.
In March 2019, Daniels announced in a ceremony that the gate through which students enter Ross-Ade Stadium would be named the Tyler Trent Memorial Gate. He also announced that Sean P. English of Northville, Michigan was the first recipient of the Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award. Kamryn Dehn of Frankfort, Indiana, became the second recipient last June.
The award is made available through a combination of gifts that commemorate the inspiring legacy of the late Trent to Purdue and beyond. It is awarded to undergraduates at Purdue’s West Lafayette Campus who have encountered severe physical or equally intimidating difficulties in their pursuit of higher education. Students can propose themselves or be proposed by others. A committee of Honors College students who are also Stamp Scholars makes recommendations for the top five applicants. Daniels then chooses the recipient.
For those who wish to support the Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award or the Tyler Trent Cancer Research Endowment at Purdue:
Checks can be sent to: Purdue Foundation, 403 W. Wood St., West Lafayette, IN 47907.
Online credit card gifts can be given here.
More information on the The Tyler Trent Award for Courage and Resilience is available.
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Editor, Media Contact: Jim Bush, 765-336-1909, [email protected]