Freshmen among the state’s first Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars

Two incoming Marshall University freshmen have been named among West Virginia’s first class of Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars.

Olivia Burns, a graduate of Hurricane High School in Putnam County and Isabella Vint, of Scott High School in Boone County, both plan to study mathematics at Marshall in preparation for teaching careers and are among 25 new high school graduates selected as West Virginia’s first Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars. These students will receive up to $10,000 per year – or $40,000 total – for their college education.

“I’m incredibly proud of these young scholars, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish over the next four years and beyond,” said Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, chancellor of West Virginia’s Higher Education Policy Commission and Community and Technical College System. “When we worked with the Legislature and Gov. Justice last year to revamp this program, we knew we wanted to create a preeminent scholarship that would produce new generations of strong, committed teachers for years to come in the Mountain State. This cohort is just the beginning, and it’s certainly a bright one.”

The program – the first in the state to be open to a national applicant pool – is designed to help West Virginia address ongoing teacher shortages in the fields of math, science, special education and elementary education. Recipients commit to teaching in one of these high-demand fields in West Virginia for at least five years after graduation. To give students the greatest chance at success, each is paired with a practicing classroom teacher mentor, who will provide guidance throughout their college careers.

A video highlighting the scholars can be found on YouTube.  A virtual celebration of the scholars will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, on Facebook Live at

For rising high school seniors who want to become teachers in West Virginia, applications open on July 15, 2020, for the 2021 cohort. Visit for more information. The Underwood-Smith award is stackable with other forms of financial aid. West Virginia residents who receive the PROMISE Scholarship as well ($4,750 per year) receive nearly $15,000 per year to help pay for college.