Butler student Ryan Alsman can’t see well enough to drive a car, but he can drive a golf ball consistently down the fairway well enough to have played on his high school’s varsity golf team including a round with his school’s state championship team.
Alsman, who is legally blind, is allowed to use a monocular, which is like a miniature telescope. It helps him focus on the shape of the hole and find a line to aim his shots. A forecaddie goes down the fairway to locate his shots but doesn’t help Ryan line up his shots or read putts. He’s on his own. “Putting is the part I’m worst at,” said Alsman, who started to golf in the seventh grade. “I struggle a lot finding a line on the putts. I don’t have any depth perception. I walk every putt and count in my head how many paces it is. Even on wedge shots, I’ll count how many paces I have.”
Diagnosed with a genetic condition that causes Cone Dystrophy and Nystagneous, with contact lenses Ryan has 20/200 vision in his left eye and 20/400 in the right. This dean’s list scholar explains that no matter how close he sits to the board, he can’t read the content. And yet, Ryan doesn’t let his visual impairment stand in the way of athletic or scholastic achievement. “In class, I have to pay attention 150 percent so I will be able to take notes.” Ryan uses a camera zoom to help see distance work in math classes and a stand magnifier to read textbook materials. For computer materials, Ryan uses Windows Magnifier to increase the font size and the screen resolution and to change the contrast to white letters on a black background.
A double major in Finance and Management Information Systems planning to work in corporate financial management when he graduates, Ryan brings a strong work ethic and leadership skills to everything he does at Butler. Last summer he completed an internship with Ameriprise Financial developing financial plans and conducting market research, and this summer he will work for State Farm Insurance doing strategic resources research and customer experience monitoring. During the school year, Ryan works for the office of Internship and Career Services. Playing golf and basketball fill his free time, in addition to serving as webmaster for his Sigma Nu Fraternity, and as the current vice president and former president of Butler’s Management Information Systems Technology Association.
Designated as a student in the top 10 percent of his incoming freshman class, Ryan says, “I am impressed by the quality of academics at Butler and the emphasis on hands-on, real world business experience. I can’t imagine myself being anywhere else but here at Butler. “
As a mentor to other students with disabilities, Ryan shares, “If you have a disability, it is important to be an independent self-advocate and not use a disability as a crutch.” Ryan says, “My family always encouraged me to pursue whatever I wanted to do.” From his success thus far, it is likely Ryan’s pursuits will lead him to even further accomplishments.