UM Adds Two Undergrads to Long List of Udall Scholars

UM undergraduates Alexios Smith (left), a sophomore in forestry, and Raina Woolworth, a junior studying environmental science and sustainability, were named 2021 Udall Scholars.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana, long a top producer of Udall Scholars, has added two more students to its list of undergraduates receiving this prestigious recognition.

Alexios Smith, a sophomore in forestry, and Raina Woolworth, a junior studying environmental science and sustainability, joined 53 other undergraduates from 41 colleges and universities nationwide named 2021 Udall Scholars. The Udall Foundation awards these scholarships to college sophomores and juniors for their leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to Native American nations or the environment.

“UM’s deep history in producing Udall scholars speaks to the academic rigor of our programs and the engagement and passion of our students – especially those studying the environment,” said Kylla Benes, UM’s director of prestigious scholarships.

As Udall Scholars, Smith and Woolworth will receive $7,000 toward academic expenses, have access to the Udall Alumni Network and travel to Tucson in August for an orientation to network and learn new skills.

Smith plans to be a conservation forester in her home state of Hawaii, working to ensure the island’s native forests are protected for the enjoyment of current and future generations. To achieve these goals, she wants to become a researcher focused on the impact of human activity on native plant ecosystems.

“As a Native Hawaiian, it hurts my soul to witness the depletion of native plant populations. I firmly believe these ecosystems are a vital part of our community, and it’s through them that life is created and sustained,” said Smith, who in addition to working toward a bachelor’s degree in forestry is minoring in ecological restoration. “In my lifetime I plan to see indigenous flora repopulate the forests of my home and I am determined to be a driving force behind this. I plan to educate local communities about these issues and work to implement the protection of native plants.”

Woolworth, who hails from Oxford, Mississippi, aspires to be an engineer in the development of carbon capture and storage solutions to combat global warming. Success, she said, will require using her interdisciplinary background of environmental sustainability, global collaboration and racial justice.

“I want a holistic sustainability mindset to form the backbone of my work,” said Woolworth, who also is minoring in climate change studies, African American Studies and Spanish. “Climate change is a complex problem that will require interdisciplinary solutions. To successfully address one issue, we must address them all.”

In addition to their academic studies. Smith and Woolworth have been active in campus programs. Woolworth was a founder of UM’s Climate Response Club and is involved in UM’s Franke Global Leadership Initiative, Quest – a Davidson Honors College student research program – and Emmaus Campus Ministry. Smith has participated in the campus Forestry Club, is a member of the Society of American Foresters and serves as vice president of UM’s Pacific Islanders Club.

The Udall Scholarship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, whose careers had a significant impact on Native American self-governance, health care and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources. Since the program’s inception in 1996, the Udall Foundation has awarded 1,788 scholarships totaling over $9.1 million.

Joining Smith and Woolworth in receiving Udall recognition was junior Zoe Transtrum who received an honorable mention along with 54 other undergraduates across the country. A junior from Boise, Transtrum is studying environmental sciences and sustainability science and practice.

“The Office of Scholarships and Fellowships helps students across campus apply for major awards,” Benes said. “The application process itself can be pivotal in a student’s academic journey. We’re proud of all of our applicants, and it is an honor to see these students get recognized for their achievements.”


Contact: Kylla Benes, UM director of prestigious scholarships, 406-243-5241,