Senior receives prestigious scholarship


Jill Bethany

Senior Sam Allen sits atop a throne of books as his senior pictures are taken.

Biotechnology is full of opportunities, especially for senior Sam Allen. Allen plans on becoming a neurologist, and was recently accepted into Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, Maryland.

As Allen looked into it, he discovered that Johns Hopkins has a core teaching of research and for wanting students to learn.

“They want people who are hungry for knowledge,” he said.

Allen has had teachers like Lori Lovett, who works at the Red River Technology Center in the biotech department, to push him and help him succeed. He said that several people helped him through his studies.

“Almost every teacher has helped me somewhere,” Allen said. “Lovett is the most recent, but each one has helped in some sort of way.”

His teachers like Lovett took his learning beyond where he thought he could go.

“First of all, I have enjoyed my time with Sam. He’s very interested in the projects,” Lovett said. “He has definitely been a fantastic student.”

Allen was able to shadow General Surgeon Ché Miller and learn about the reality of medical sciences.

“I really enjoyed that experience,” Allen said. “It helped me see what I wanted to do, not just the biomedical side, but the human side of it.”

Allen’s teachers signed him up for a HOSA biotech competition during the last summer. HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) is a national student organization in health sciences. They do a capstone, which is a biomedical research project, and the students present them at the end of the school year. A capstone is an assignment that serves as an academic and intellectual experience for students, typically during their final year of high school.

At the HOSA competition, Allen had to pass a written test about biotechnology and the other test is a performance test. In the performance portion, he had to show his lab skills, correctly, in front of the judges.

“When he entered, I told him that he had to do it on his own time,” Lovett said. “I gave him a couple of books and he came in after class.”

Allen won first at state and qualified for nationals.

“HOSA was a different competition,” he said. “You have to know about the process of bacteria, and create a chart about it.”

Lovett says that Allen has potential to do well and exceed in the world of biomed.

“He loves research and wants to work with the brain,” Lovett said.

Allen started working toward his awarded future by studying during his junior and senior years.

According to Allen, he started his junior year to prepare for his senior year studies.

“Sam taught himself and stayed after class and ended up passing the test which allowed him to be a contestant at state,” she said.

Allen had to learn all of the lab procedures to prepare for the competitions.

“You have to know a little bit about the field,” he said.

Allen is on an OMRF (Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation) scholarship. OMRF’s graduate education programs offer scholarships and mentoring for medical students.

“It was a scholarship that was a mixture of financial aid and merit,” Allen said. “The OMRF scholarship is more of a paid internship. They pay me an hourly wage.”

His mom, Heather Allen says that Sam has always been driven to succeed and is self determined.

“He’s just a self-motivated person, and I have not had to push him to do one thing,” she said.

According to Lovett, one challenge Sam had to face was the advanced knowledge that he had to come up with as a junior.

Sam thinks that it was the larger schools that he had to go against.

“There were larger schools that were competing, and Duncan didn’t have as many resources that I could get to,” he said.

Lovett feels that Sam was at the right place and time, because there are more opportunities now than ever.

According to Sam, his transition to Boston will be a culture shock, but he’s excited for it.

“It’s definitely not going to be small town Oklahoma,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting to see people from all over.”

Allen says that the upcoming year will be a major adjustment to all of the changes in the past month, but he is ready for the new experiences.

“He is going on to something exciting, and will be gone in Oklahoma City for eight weeks,” Heather said. “I think this a new chapter in my life.”

Sam reminisces about his past and looks onto his future as a scientist.

“It’s been a crazy year,” he said. “I’m still shocked about how many opportunities are open to me.”