Underdown Collins is a native of Elkin, North Carolina, and has lived in Boone since 1975. A graduate of Elkin High School, she was a member of Kappa Delta Sorority and the Appalachian Ambassadors as an undergraduate and remains an active mentor for those organizations today. Underdown Collins graduated with a BS in History in 1979 and an MA in History in 1981. She incorporated Underdown and Associates Inc, a real estate appraisal company, in January of 1985 and still operates the business 34-years later. After graduation from Appalachian State, she has remained an active member of the University community. She served leadership positions on both the Yosef Club and Turchin Center Advisory boards and has been a long-time member of the Appalachian Alumni Council, serving as President in 2003. Underdown Collins was a member of the Appalachian State Board of Trustees from 2005-13, serving as Chair in 2009.
Her civic engagement was highlighted by serving on Boone Town Council from 2015-17, where she was a key advocate for the creation of the Boone Greenway Skatepark. Underdown Collins has served as a member of the Watauga Economic Development Commission, the Boone Tourism Development Authority, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, High Country Board of Realtors, and the board of the Southern Appalachian Historical Society during her career.