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Nancy Carroll Allen and Nik Meggos

The Power of Scholarships

I was given a scholarship that helped me pursue my dream and I want to pay it forward.

Nancy Carroll Allen

When Nikolas “Nik” Meggos was a student at Alton High School in Illinois, he thought he would become an accountant. After all, he was good at math, so it made perfect sense. The last thing on his radar was a career in medicine, especially since he was afraid of doctors and needles.

But now, he’s in his first semester at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College. Not only is he on his way to becoming a nurse, but he is the recipient of the Nancy Carroll Allen Scholarship, the first Goldfarb scholarship that covers total tuition and fees.

“I had a sudden change of heart,” he says explaining his decision to switch from accounting to nursing. “I realized that this is something I have to do. I couldn’t sit at a desk all day doing numbers. I’m a shy person, but I want to help people.”

“I’m fairly religious and I feel this is my service to help others. I was given the gifts of gentleness and patience and being a nurse is a better use of these gifts than being an accountant.”

And the generosity of one donor made Nik’s nursing dreams possible.

The scholarship he received is the result of a gift from Nancy Carroll Allen, a 1965 alumna of Jewish Hospital School of Nursing and former staff member of Jewish Hospital, a predecessor of Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Nancy, a native of Alton, specified that the scholarship be offered to an Alton High School student or graduate who is also active in the Alton community in order to give back to the city she calls home.

After graduating from Alton High School in 1962, Nancy applied to Jewish Hospital School of Nursing but wasn’t sure how her family would afford the tuition. Thankfully, she was offered a scholarship that opened the door to her future. It was an anonymous scholarship that she never forgot.

“I was so thrilled,” she says. “My parents were not well off so without the scholarship, it would have been a real struggle. This was a life-changing experience.”

Nancy went on to work at Jewish Hospital after obtaining her nursing degree in 1965. During her pediatric infectious disease rotation, she met the man who would become her husband: Robert Allen, MD. They had one date and she knew he was the one.

It was the beginning of a long and exciting journey for the couple. Dr. Allen became a renowned physician-scientist, conducting pioneering work in the diagnosis and understanding of deficiencies of vitamin B12 and folate. His work was important because patients with B12 deficiency can develop serious hematologic and neurologic abnormalities.

In 1978, he invented a much more accurate method for measuring vitamin B12 in blood; Nancy worked alongside her husband as the clinical coordinator of the human studies using the new test. Today, the test is used by clinical laboratories throughout the world.

The Allens, who now live in Denver, are retired and focused on giving back.

“We have been very fortunate,” Nancy says of their life together. And it all started after she became a nurse. “I was given a scholarship that helped me pursue my dream and I want to pay it forward.”

“My parents have worked so hard to save money and now they can do what they want without worrying about paying for school,” he says. “It’s my way of giving back to them.”

Nik says he will be eternally grateful for Nancy’s generosity. He had an opportunity to meet Nancy and thank her for helping him pursue what he sees as his mission.

“She told me two things: always work hard and make a difference in someone’s life,” he says adding that he plans to do both.

“I told her that she’s not only having an impact on my life, she is going to help so many people with this one scholarship.”