A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Karen Allen

Sergio Valdes
By: Sergio Valdes Last Updated: October 14, 2020

Dedicating your life to help and heal others is tough but rewarding. Karen Allen knows that all too well. Allen worked for years as a nurse and is currently serving Valparaiso University as a Professor and the Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions, so she knows the various challenges one can face in the field and the resolve one must have in the profession.

“Having a clear mindset really helped me throughout my years,” Allen said. “Thankfully, I am currently I’m working with phenomenal people.”

Allen got her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Andrews University in Michigan, the state where she was born. She would later obtain a Master’s degree in Administration and a Ph.D. in Nursing Sciences. She previously was in charge of the Nursing program at Andrews University for 17 years before coming to Valparaiso to serve as Dean. Additionally, she is on the Board of Directors for Porter Regional Hospital in Valparaiso. Overall, Allen has been involved in academia in some shape or form for about 28 years.

Allen states that she was inspired to become a nurse by her mother, who is currently 89 and still works as a nurse to this day. Back when she was a nurse, her mother had to deal with racism and other challenges, but seeing her pull through and get her bachelor’s degree despite the odds inspired Allen.

“I feel appreciative for the opportunities I have had during my years,” Allen said. “The struggles I have endured strengthened me in so many ways.”

Her specialty is substance abuse and addictions. She has done consultations with the federal government and the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as well as serving on the National Advising Board for the Center of Substance Abuse Prevention. In addition, she did evaluations and diagnostic assessments of the women and children treatment program for the Center of Substance Abuse Treatment.

“Being part of all these different groups throughout the years has been a wonderful learning experience,” Allen said. “I truly feel this is my calling.”

Allen states that her faith helps guide her through her work and gives her mental and emotional support.

“My relationship with the Lord helps me speak through experiences and determine responses and courses of action that are appropriate,” Allen said. “Faith is having a belief system and living what you believe in. It means the world to me.”

Allen said she is blessed to have been able to treat so many people as a nurse and guide others as an administrator.