Paducah Tilghman High School senior Gage Gottman received a life-changing diagnosis when he learned that he has Type 1 diabetes at the young age of 13. The news ultimately shaped what he wants to do for a future career.
It’s a condition that Gottman, now 17, helps manage with an insulin pump, which “talks” to a different machine on his body that reads his blood sugar. He is able to check his blood sugar by looking at his phone, and instead of giving himself injections, the insulin pump can do it automatically.
“I ended up dropping a lot of weight because of that and I definitely knew something was wrong, but the change — I took it a little bit differently than others will think,” he said, about his diagnosis. “I used it as more of a motivator once I got over the grieving process, and just had to accept that this is the new normal, and had to move on and create a better life with it.”
Gottman, who’s been a youth ambassador for the Kentucky and Indiana chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, said he plans to major in biochemistry for undergraduate study and he hopes to have a “large emphasis” in the research of autoimmune diseases.
He’s considering different options for college, such as the University of Kentucky, Purdue University in Indiana and the University of Colorado Boulder.
“I’d like to understand more what’s wrong about me, and just the way our bodies can react down to the molecular level and see how the chemistry of it makes all this work in our bodies,” he said.
Gottman, son of Jason and Erin Gottman of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Every Tuesday, The Sun publishes articles on area high school seniors who were chosen from a group of nominees for Teen of the Week recognition. Around the end of the school year, a selection committee will name one of these students as Teen of the Year, which carries a $5,000 scholarship. Another student will receive the Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
At Paducah Tilghman, Gottman has earned a 4.048 weighted cumulative GPA.
He’s attended the Kentucky Governor’s Scholar program and is an AP Scholar. Gottman participates in many school activities, including mock trial, future problem solving, sustainability club, choir and National Honor Society. He also helped start the school’s new eSports team, which plays video games against schools across Kentucky. The season started around fall break.
“I started building computers around eighth grade — so, around (the time of) my diagnosis, and was always interested in the video game scene, especially the eSports scene throughout different games,” Gottman said.
“One day I was playing this car soccer game called ‘Rocket League’ with a few friends. We wanted to start the eSports team, and then we started it, and then we recruited two different other games and all the players involved. It’s really taken off.”
As for computers, Gottman said he noticed growing up that everything around him started to turn into technology.
“In elementary school, we got the first iPads and that was crazy to me. We knew that things were going to be changing, so might as well get ahead of the times,” he said. “I self-educated myself about all of the different parts of the computer and how they interact and started helping my friends build their own. It’s something very interesting to me.”
Gottman’s goals for senior year include turning in his college applications, thinking about what school he’d like to go to, and studying for AP exams.
“I’m going to miss the people that I’ve been with for all my life, but I’m definitely ready to, not start a new one, but continue a new chapter,” he said.
By: Kelly Farrell