Anthropology Alumna Digs UCF
Dr. Amanda Groff, ’03, ’05, ’07, was honored as the 2016 Outstanding Anthropology AlumKnight at the 2016 UCF College of Sciences Outstanding AlumKnights awards reception. The second annual awards ceremony honored 10 of the college’s outstanding alumni and was held on March 3 in the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.
Dr. Groff graduated from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology in 2003, a certificate in Maya Studies in 2005, and a master’s degree in 2007 in the track of Archeological Investigations in Forensics and Human Adaptation. She later went on to receive her doctorate from the University of Florida in 2015.
Currently, Dr. Groff is serving as Lecturer and the Online Coordinator for the Department of Anthropology at UCF. She is also the CDL Webcourses Online Faculty Specialist this year.
Her professional achievements are noteworthy, including numerous technical reports and publications authored, more than 14 years worth of research studies logged, presentations at several conferences, as well as being actively involved in professional archaeological organizations.
In 2013 she was ranked among the Top-25 Female Professors in the State of Florida. In 2012 Dr. Groff was awarded the inaugural Chuck D. Dziuban Excellence in Online Teaching Award. This award led to her recognition in the field of online teaching and her current positions as Online Coordinator for Anthropology and CDL Faculty Online Training Specialist. In 2014, she was a recipient of both the UCF Teaching Incentive Program Award and the Scholarship for Teaching & Learning Award. Most recently, she received the 2015 Cockburn Student Prize for Best Podium Presentation.
If that isn’t enough, Dr. Groff volunteers in her spare time guest lecturing at local area high schools and serving as a presenter, panelist, and committee member with the Center of Distributed Learning.
Dr. Groff was nominated for the award based off these outstanding accomplishments and continued commitment to the university.
Dr. Groff shared some more on her experience as a UCF student, a current faculty member, and offered some advice in her spotlight responses below.
Why did you choose to attend UCF?
During my senior year of high school, I did research on in-state universities with a great reputation (I’m a Florida gal). I remember reading about UCF as a burgeoning research university with an excellent anthropology program filled with professors from diverse backgrounds. After a campus visit, I was sold that UCF was the university for me. I ended up receiving my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Anthropology from UCF.
How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?
My UCF degrees led to my career! While working on my Master’s degree in Anthropology at UCF, I was offered a teaching position as a GTA in our department. It was that opportunity which led to my career and current position as a Lecturer with the UCF Anthropology Department.
Were you involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?
Yes, I was involved with the Anthropology Fraternity, Alpha Theta Ro. I was also involved with the UCF “Tree People,” which was a group of Anthropology students who hung out in the gazebo and trees in front of Howard Phillips Hall. We often involved other students in activities which exposed them to anthropology.
What is your best UCF memory?
My favorite memory is of the nerf atlatl contests we used to have in the open courtyard in front of Howard Phillips Hall. Very anthropological, nerdy, and fun! (An atlatl is a tool used to thrown darts or weapons far distances; but we used nerf darts instead…much safer)
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I love teaching students and exposing them to new cultures, practices, and archaeological finds. I love seeing their excitement about these subjects and helping them get the experience they need to pursue anthropology as a career.
What is your most memorable experience on the job?
One of my most memorable experiences was when a student unexpectedly showed up to my Sex, Gender, and Culture course and performed a traditional Arabic belly dance in full costume for the class. The lecture that day was on Sex and Gender in the Middle East. I will never forget it!
What piece of advice would you give to current students as well as UCF alumni?
Stick to your dreams and educational goals, and fight for them if you have to! Also, never turn down an opportunity for experience, even if it is outside your research area; you never know how it may help you in the future.
Dr. Groff shared some “get-to-know-you” responses in our 30-second lightning round of questions:
Do you have any special/hidden talents?
I’m really good at papier mache. I once sculpted and papier mached an entire UCF Knight that was 20 feet long.
What do you do for fun?
I love going to fan expos and scifi conventions. I’ve met a huge chunk of the cast from ‘The Walking Dead’ and have the photographic evidence to prove it! I also love to travel. I just returned from a trip to Iceland.
What is the most generous or thoughtful gift you have ever received?
As a young child, I often admired two wooden figurines my grandmother had in her home. She always told me they were from her grandfather and very valuable to her. For Christmas 7 years ago she gave them to me as a special gift. She had remembered how much I loved them all those years ago and wanted me to have them.