Philanthropy Leads to Life-Changing Research for Allegheny Senior

Senior Megan Arnold will receive her bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College in May and continue to pursue her dream of becoming an oncologist and cancer researcher.

Megan, a biochemistry major and psychology minor from Burton, Ohio, has enjoyed a stellar undergraduate academic career, punctuated by valuable cutting-edge research experiences during her four years, all made possible by generous alumni and other benefactors.

After her first year at Allegheny, Megan immersed herself in a two-month summer research experience studying the physiology of muscle contraction with Allegheny alumnus Anthony Hessel ’12 at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Megan’s trip and expenses were funded by the Christine Scott Nelson ’73 Faculty Support Fund and the William S. Demchak ’84 and Debbie Demchak Student Internship Fund.

“It was intimidating coming to work in a lab like this, but once I got there I realized that my time at Allegheny had undoubtedly prepared me for this exciting challenge,” Megan says. “I was honored when one of my mentors complimented me on my work ethic and my willingness to take on new challenges.

“I knew this was a mindset I developed from the rigor of my coursework during my first year. It was rewarding to see the outcome of the work ethic and dedication I developed at Allegheny as a result of the endless support from my mentors and professors. They made me feel that no goal was unreachable, and they constantly encouraged me to hold myself to a higher standard.”

Doane Hall of Chemistry and Steffee Hall of Life Sciences

As a first-year student, and again in her sophomore year, Megan earned a PNC Bank Scholarship that helped defray her tuition costs at Allegheny. This current academic year, Megan received the John D. Wheeler Scholarship (John ‘61 and Margaret Wheeler), which follows a summer at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, studying a potential treatment for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Says Megan: “I wanted to be in a place where I could tell someone, ‘I have big dreams for myself,’ and hear them say, ‘That’s the way it’s supposed to be, and here’s how you can achieve them.’ I can say with complete conviction that Allegheny is this place. It is everything I could have ever wished for in a college and more.”

Megan continues to excel at Allegheny. She is the head resident advisor at Ravine-Narvik Hall, serves as a Sustained Dialogue moderator, volunteers at the Grounds for Change coffeehouse, mentors students in first-year seminars and chemistry and molecular biology courses, and plays on the Ultimate Frisbee team. In 2018, Megan received Allegheny’s Helping Hand Award, given to the student who exemplifies the ideals by which Brian Grogan ’99 lived his life: leadership, commitment, spirituality, respect for others, and personal sacrifice. She will graduate Phi Beta Kappa.

After graduation, Megan hopes to continue her education and eventually conduct research at the National Cancer Institute.

“My experience at Allegheny has been deeply impacted by the philanthropic acts of many different alumni and organizations,” Megan says. “Without their generosity and commitment to education, I wouldn’t have been able to attend Allegheny, which means I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I am looking ahead to continuing to pay it forward throughout my life by using the knowledge I have gained here in service of other people, and one day donating to support future Allegheny students.”