Mentoring: A Rewarding Partnership

By: Graduate Studies on

The University of Central Florida’s summer mentoring program allows incoming graduate students to work one-on-one with faculty members to encourage close and active partnerships that facilitate the undertaking of indepth or long-term projects. The program connects faculty with students who share similar research interests, allowing graduate students to gain research experience, while faculty members benefit from having an additional researcher on their projects. Amanda Koontz Anthony, PhD, professor of sociology at UCF, has served as a mentor for the summer program in addition to her course instruction at the university. 

Having always enjoyed helping other students and informally mentoring through school, Dr. Anthony realized she wanted to be a professor and earned her doctorate at Florida State University before coming to UCF as an assistant professor. She teaches social theory at the undergraduate and master’s levels as well as Sex and Gender, Social Power and Inequalities, Popular Culture, and Introduction to Sociology at the undergraduate level. She is an online instructor in addition to teaching traditional and mixed-mode classes at UCF and Valencia-West Campus. “Every semester I learn new perspectives and new ways to look at the concepts I teach, “Anthony says. “Students consistently write and ask questions that make me look at the material in a new way; this inspires me to re-read work with fresh eyes.” Dr. Anthony works diligently to keep assignments open for students to discuss their individual interests and to draw from media sources to make connections between classwork and their daily lives. She loves when students say that her class made them look at their everyday experiences with a new perspective. 

As she continues to develop her courses, Dr. Anthony plans to expand her classrooms to include more interactive online material and build connections between the concepts learned in the classroom and their applications to everyday life through involvement in the community. Dr. Anthony hopes to continue mentoring students who are interested in collaborating with her. One of Dr. Anthony’s current projects focuses on the transition of marginalized college students into higher education in hopes of gaining insight into cultural influences on women’s and girl’s identity development, with attention to leadership, self-efficacy, and goal- and decision-making.  Another project investigates cultural hierarchies through the case of Thomas Kinkade. As a summer program mentor, Dr. Anthony guides incoming students as they become accustomed to the area and the program. “Almost everything related to academics is an ongoing learning process, “Anthony says. “We must consistently learn how to read new and challenging materials, write in new and different styles, and better express ourselves while adopting new perspectives. I find it so rewarding to go through this process with students.”

In the classroom and as a mentor, Dr. Anthony supports her students as they develop their projects from inception to fruition. She is grateful for the support given for both teaching and research at UCF and the opportunities faculty have to combine them. 

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