Marshall University announces newest class of B.S./M.D. students

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University and its Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine have selected nine high school seniors from across West Virginia as the newest class of students for the accelerated B.S./M.D. program.

The program was established in 2015 as a pathway for high-performing West Virginia students to finish both their Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Medicine degrees in seven years. The new class joins 29 B.S./M.D. students currently in medical school and 27 students in the undergraduate portion of the curriculum.

The following students have been accepted into the program and will begin their undergraduate coursework at Marshall this fall:

  • Nikolas Blackburn – Tolsia High School (Wayne County)
  • Amelia Cox – University High School (Monongalia County)
  • Jenna DeTemple – Charleston Catholic High School (Kanawha County)
  • Isha Gupta – Poolesville High School (Berkeley County)
  • Nicole Liang – Morgantown High School (Monongalia County)
  • Kushal Modi – Nitro High School (Kanawha County)
  • Keegan Shaffer – George Washington High School (Kanawha County)
  • Smara Sigdel – Huntington High School (Cabell County)
  • Callia Yang – George Washington High School (Kanawha County)

Students in the newest class are from throughout West Virginia, from the eastern panhandle to the southern part of the state. They are athletes, student leaders and entrepreneurs, while also excelling in their academic studies.

“This class is composed of a unique group of hard-working students,” said Jennifer T. Plymale, associate dean of admissions for the School of Medicine. “This year has been most challenging, yet these exceptional students were able to maintain focus and their commitment to a career of service in medicine.  They have experienced virtual and remote school, interruptions in their academics and power outages while maintaining academic excellence— skills that will serve them well in medical school and in the practice of medicine.”

Students begin the application process the summer prior to their senior year of high school. The program is open to West Virginia high school students who achieve a minimum ACT composite score of 30 (or equivalent SAT) and an ACT math score of 27 (or equivalent SAT), as well as a cumulative GPA of 3.75 on a 4.0 scale. Other criteria include three letters of recommendation and interviews. 

Students who successfully complete the undergraduate program requirements will matriculate directly into medical school.  They are not required to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT).  Additionally, the students will receive a tuition waiver for the medical school portion of the program.

“I am honored to be included in such an elite and promising group of students in such a limited and prestigious collegiate program,” said Nikolas Blackburn, a senior at Tolsia High School in Wayne County. “To be able to attend medical school and hopefully practice medicine in the area where I have grown up has been a primary goal of mine since I was kid and being selected into the B.S./M.D. program provides a massive advantage in making this dream a reality.”

Plymale said the program is just one of the ways Marshall University is working to keep talented, bright students in West Virginia. For more information about the program, visit


Date Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2021