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Meet Scholarship Winner Nicole Allen

Dec 15, 2023

Forty-year-old First Generation college student and mother Nicole Allen has been awarded a Misty Catherine Bassi Memorial UWW Scholarship. Nicole works as a medical assistant and lives in Easthampton, Massachusetts with her husband and two children. Recovery from multiple illnesses originally inspired her to enter health care. Now, she aspires to become a nurse practitioner in the same office where she currently works, and is finishing her bachelor of science degree in interdisciplinary studies as the next step.

Every adult student has a story. What's your story?

In 2016, I weighed over 520 pounds and was basically bedbound. I needed a walker and wheelchair to get around outside the home, and I ended up in the hospital with multiple medical conditions, including several pulmonary emboli. The care I received while in the hospital for 11 days made me want to enter the medical field, so after losing 250 pounds I went back to school in 2018 by enrolling in Porter and Chester for medical assisting. Once I graduated and worked a few years as a medical assistant, I started at Springfield Technical Community College for my prerequisites in 2021. My end goal is to become a nurse practitioner and earn my doctoral degree.

What does winning this scholarship mean to you?

It means so much to me, I can't even put it into words. I have a long road ahead of me for school, which means a lot of loans and student debt, so every scholarship I earn that goes towards my education is something less I have to pay back. I can truly focus on my education instead of the crippling debt.

What is the best part about being a UWW Interdisciplinary Studies student?

Being able to do it all online so I can continue working my full time job. I'm an older mom with a son in middle school, so being able to provide for my family while chasing my dreams is beyond words. I'm so grateful for the opportunity that UWW is affording me. 

How do you balance work, school, and other responsibilities?

I get up at 3:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and do coursework until 6:30 a.m. Then I get ready for work and get my son ready for school. I work 8 to 5, and when I come home, my husband has dinner ready and has already helped our son with his homework. I can get another couple hours of schoolwork in. Then I spend time doing something with the family, either games, movies/shows, or date night with my husband. The weekends, I do more class work in the morning and spend the rest of the day with family, friends, or just myself to unwind. I forgot to mention that I'm taking 4 courses in my first semester here, so I'm very busy!

What are your plans for the future—professionally and personally?

I want to be a nurse practitioner with the office that I'm currently employed at, with my doctorate under my belt. I want to create the kind of home for my family that my husband and I never had growing up. I want the stability and rewards of hard work to pay off for my husband and son.

What else do you want people to know about you, your family, and your story?

I'm just a mom who has overcome crippling anxiety, depression, and an almost attempted suicide, who felt her life was going nowhere and worth less than nothing, who is now jumping hurdles and chasing dreams. Recovery is possible from mental illness. I'm here living for the stars because my husband heard me when I needed it the most. I have a mental illness but it doesn't have me!

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the person being featured and do not necessarily reflect those of the University.

University Without Walls scholarships exist thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends.