Q & A with Lindsay Underhill

Q & A with Lindsay Underhill

March 4, 2022
Rhonda Jessup, Public Affairs Director

 MOUNT OLIVE The Herring Scholarship Fund is the largest scholarship fund available to students at the University of Mount Olive (UMO).  The Herring Scholarship is strictly for residents of Duplin County or the city limits of Mount Olive.  Students are selected by their guidance counselors based on need, grades, extracurricular activities, and character.

The scholarship recipients are fondly referred to as “Herring Scholars,” in memory of Otha E. Herring, who established the fund in 2003 with a $5 million gift to the University of Mount Olive. Approximately 370 students have received the Herring Scholarship since its inception.

With applications for the UMO Herring Scholarship currently being accepted, UMO Director of Public Relations Rhonda E. Jessup recently sat down with one of the Herring Scholars to learn more.

UMO junior elementary education major, Lindsay Underhill, is both a Herring Scholarship recipient and a member of the Homegrown Teacher Academy. The Mount Olive resident is a 2019 graduate of North Duplin High School.  She is the daughter of Melanie and Dave Underhill.

How did you choose the University of Mount Olive for your educational pursuits?

After my high school graduation, I was very uncertain about my college plans. After many campus visits across North Carolina and lots of careful consideration, I decided that nowhere else felt quite like home. The University of Mount Olive is a special place. From the very first time that I stepped into the admissions office to meet with an admissions representative, I was warmly welcomed and felt valued. I am so glad that I chose UMO!

What makes the University of Mount Olive special?

For me, it is not what makes UMO special, but who. People like Mrs. Rose Coats, who works in the cafeteria at the Holmes and Lois K. Murphy Center. Mrs. Rose does her best to memorize each students’ name so that she can greet them with a big smile and a hello.  Nicole Balsamello, in admissions, is always willing to go the extra mile to make sure that the needs of each incoming student are taken care of.  Amanda Bullard-Maxwell and Natalie Kemp, in the Henderson building, always make a point to say hello and ask how you’re doing, despite their unbelievably busy schedules.  Michelle Spence, in Raper Hall, goes above and beyond to equip her students with knowledge and prepare them for a successful future. People, like these, are what make UMO special!

When did you first become interested in becoming a teacher?

I have always had respect for the teaching profession because of my mother, who has now been an elementary teacher for over 20 years. However, I didn’t see teaching as part of my own future until the fall of 2020. That semester, I spent a lot of time tutoring children who were faced with virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Education is something that I feel my generation has taken for granted because it has been so readily accessible. Perhaps if nothing else good came from COVID-19, it helped us, as a society, to realize how important it is to have children in school. Working with those students and seeing the effect of schools being closed for such a long period of time helped me to realize how truly important teachers are, and to realize my true calling.

In addition to the Herring Scholarship, I understand you also receiving financial support as a member of the Homegrown Teacher Academy, an innovative and collaborative program involving Duplin County Schools, James Sprunt Community College, and the University of Mount Olive.  What can you tell me about your involvement with this program?

The Homegrown Teacher Academy is a great opportunity for Duplin County students interested in the teaching profession. As a member of the Homegrown Teacher Academy, I have committed to return to Duplin County as an educator in order to give back to the community that gave so much to me. We also participate in lots of service projects throughout the year and work to learn more about local history, the school system, and the obstacles that children in our community face so that we can better serve our future students.

Growing up, who was your biggest teaching role model and why?

My biggest role model is my mother, Melanie Underhill. She has been a teacher for 21 years and she truly cares for her students. Although I never got to experience being a student in her class, I have watched from the sidelines for my entire life as she has poured her heart into the profession. I am so thankful to have her as a mentor as I prepare for a classroom of my own.

In your opinion what makes a good teacher?

A good teacher is committed to being a lifelong learner and to fostering a love of learning in their students. The University of Mount Olive has a great education program, and I am confident that they will equip me with the right tools to become this kind of teacher!

As a Herring Scholar, you are a representative of the Duplin County/Mount Olive Community, what would you like to say about being a recipient of this scholarship?

Being a recipient of the Herring Scholarship is such an honor. I have worked hard to try and live up to the standard of being a Herring Scholar, which means to exemplify good citizenship, high moral character, leadership, and prepare for a productive life.

What advice would you give to someone considering attending UMO?

If I could give advice to someone considering attending the University of Mount Olive, I would say that college is what you make it. As a commuter student, it can be difficult at first to get involved. I spent half of my freshman year going straight to my classes, then going straight home without making connections with my peers. Pretty soon, I learned that college is so much more fun when you have friends to go through it with! There are so many different clubs, organizations, and employment opportunities to get involved with on campus- find one that interests you and participate!

Tell me about your involvements both at UMO at in your community.

I am a member of Bear Marsh Missionary Baptist church, where I sing in the choir and help with children’s ministry. Bear Marsh is a church that is devoted to bringing glory and honor to God through love and service. I am so thankful to have such a great church family to worship alongside. I also work in the University of Mount Olive Admissions Office as a student employee. I truly love working with the “A-Team” and welcoming future students to campus! I work as a tour guide for the university as well. I enjoy meeting with prospective students, showing them all the great things that our campus has to offer, and telling them what I love about UMO. Being a tour guide has led me to meet so many wonderful people from all over the world, and I am thankful that I was given this opportunity. I also tutor several elementary-aged students. I love working with these students one-on-one, and it is so rewarding to watch them grow and learn over time.

In your opinion, what are the advantages of attending UMO?

Lots of small colleges and universities boast that their students are a name and not just a number, but that statement really is true at the University of Mount Olive. I am now in my third year of classes at UMO, and in every course that I have taken, the professor has been able to call on each student by name. Lots of interaction and discussion takes place in our classes, and our professors are always willing to answer questions and meet with students outside of class to work through any problems. Our professors truly care about us and our well-being!

How has the Herring Scholarship helped to make your dream of earning a college degree possible for you?

The Herring Scholarship is such a great relief of the financial burden that comes along with furthering your education. I would encourage all students from Duplin County and within the city limits of Mount Olive to work hard in high school and consider applying for this wonderful scholarship opportunity.

Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing, and Communications Tim Woodard, said, “We are currently accepting applications for the Herring Scholarship Fund.  This is a wonderful opportunities for students from Duplin County and Mount Olive.  I highly encourage anyone interested to apply.”

Applications are being accepted until April 1, 2022.  Interested individuals can contact Woodard at twoodard@umo.edu.