WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University has awarded the 2022 Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award to a student whose own story draws many parallels with the legacy of former Boilermaker Tyler Trent.

Eric Magallanes was a sophomore in Purdue’s School of Health Sciences when he developed a sore in his mouth and got it checked out at a dentist’s office where he worked part-time as a dental assistant.

A biopsy confirmed Magallanes had an aggressive form of oral cancer, squamous cell carcinoma.

“I don’t know how I’m going to break the news to my mom,” Magallanes recollected. “Once I saw my mom cry, that’s when it really hit me that it’s going to be a long road ahead of me.”

During his treatment, the Lafayette native and McCutcheon graduate read Trent’s book “The Upset” about the late student’s own journey with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.

“It was fascinating to keep reading and seeing how much Tyler and I were connected in our journey.”

One of the the hardest things for Magallanes was having to take a leave of absence from his studies at Purdue. He says it was the first time he got emotional about his diagnosis.

Tears didn’t come until I had to go to the Office of the Dean of Students and tell them that I was withdrawing from Purdue for medical reasons. I think that hurt me the most. I sat down on a bench and just started crying.”

Eric Magallanes

While undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Magallanes worked to support others by starting a nonprofit with a friend. My Fellow Man distributes hygiene packages with toothbrushes, toothpaste, and informational fact sheets to people in need.

After treatments that led to the removal of 32 lymph nodes and a section of his tongue, Magallanes is in remission and happily back on campus, working towards his goal of becoming a dentist.

“Tyler Trent’s legacy lives on through Eric,” says Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “We try to honor Tyler whenever we can and recognize Boilermakers who show his remarkable grit. Eric represents everything that this award stands for and the qualities that we hope grow in every Boilermaker during their Purdue years.”

Tyler Trent (File photo)

The Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award has been awarded to three other Purdue students since its inception in 2019. The $5,000 scholarship is given to Purdue undergraduate students “who have encountered serious physical or similarly daunting adversity in their pursuit of higher education.”

Trent died from cancer on January 1, 2019.

“Receiving this Tyler Trent award means so much because I’ve always had to work to put myself through college,” said Magallanes. “I’m a first generation college student, and it helps me focus more strictly on school and reaching the end goal of becoming a dentist.”

You can read more about Magallanes’ story here and see more of his story here.