Meet a Retriever—Amanda Sharp, academic advocacy leader

Published: Jul 15, 2024

Two women academic advocates talk to each other in an office setting
Sharp, at right, speaks with an Academic Peer Advocate in the newly renovated Academic Success Center in UMBC's Albin O. Kuhn Library. (Marlayna Demond ’11/UMBC)
Meet Amanda Sharp, director of academic advocacy in UMBC’s Academic Success Center. What keeps her coming back to work each day? Supporting students! She says she is privileged to sit with students in some of their hardest moments and also see them reach their highest successes. We’re excited to hear more about your work, Amanda—take it away!

Q: What’s one essential thing you’d want another Retriever to know about you?

A: My name is Amanda, and I’m a director in the Academic Advocacy Office here at UMBC! One essential thing you should know about me is that I’m deeply passionate about helping students succeed and thrive in their academic journey. When I’m not working, you can usually find me with my pup, Jayla, or with my sorors. I’m a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

Q: What’s the one thing you’d want someone who hasn’t joined the UMBC community to know about the support you find here?

A: The people at UMBC are genuinely committed to student success, and this commitment permeates every aspect of campus life. From the moment you step onto campus, you’re surrounded by a network of dedicated professionals, staff, and faculty who are invested in helping you achieve your goals. They will motivate you, support you, and recognize the work you do. For example, many of my colleagues nominated me for the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award at the 2024 FYE® Conference. When I won, I dedicated that award to the staff and students who devote themselves to uplifting others.

Q: What do you love most about your job and why?

A: Every day, I witness the transformative power of the support and guidance my colleagues and I provide. Seeing a student who once struggled academically or personally now thriving and succeeding is an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s the moments when students share how our support helped them stay on track or graduate that remind me of the significance of the work we do as academic advocates.

Q: Tell us about someone in the community who has inspired you or supported you, and how they did it.

A: I’ve been consistently inspired by the dedication, compassion, and wisdom of our Academic Peer Advocates (APAs). These students, who come from diverse academic disciplines and backgrounds, have stepped up to provide a listening ear, offer guidance, and connect their peers with the resources and support they need to succeed. Their commitment to normalizing the challenges that students face and creating a safe, non-judgmental space for their peers to share their struggles has been truly remarkable.

a group of academic advocate s poses together outside
The Academic Advocacy team (Tanay Adams, Alison Larsen, Cari Godin, Amanda Sharp, Cliff Saul, and Hope Weisman) on campus.

Q: Tell us what you love about your academic program or an organization you’re involved in.

A: I love empowering students through our Academic Advocacy and Academic Peer Advocacy program. By connecting students with caring staff and peers and providing holistic support, we help them build confidence, overcome barriers, and thrive academically and personally.

two white women look excited as they show a black and gold pompom
Sharp, at right, at Retriever Fest with colleague Amanda Knapp. (Photo courtesy of Sharp.)

Q: Tell us about your primary WHY, and how it led you to UMBC.

A: I came to UMBC because I believed in its mission, values, and commitment to students. I saw an opportunity to make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of the students we serve. I’m grateful for this decision every day, as I continue to be inspired by the resilience, dedication, and achievements of our remarkable students and the unwavering support of the UMBC community.

By connecting students with caring staff and peers and providing holistic support, we help them build confidence, overcome barriers, and thrive academically and personally.

Amanda Sharp

Q: Since you’ve been a part of the UMBC community, how have you found support of your WHY?

A: I’m truly humbled to have had the privilege of supporting so many students across the country through some of the most challenging moments of their lives, some of which were filled with extreme personal loss or immense feelings of failure. As I sit in those moments with students, with the weight of those feelings on their shoulders, my main goal is to instill in them the belief that they are truly worthy of success and happiness. As I watch them leave my office, I oftentimes see that weight they walked in with, the weight that tells them that they can’t succeed, lift just a little, and is replaced with confidence and compassion. These are the moments that support my “why.”

a woman in a dress holds an award
Sharp after winning the Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award at the 2024 FYE® Conference in Seattle, Washington. (Photo courtesy of Sharp.)

Q: Are you involved in any other campus organizations?

A: I’m on the Women’s Center Advisory Board, and I couldn’t be more proud of the work they do. The center’s staff focuses their efforts on raising awareness, facilitating dialogue, and implementing policies and practices that support marginalized students and communities. These efforts have been crucial to fostering a sense of belonging and ensuring that every student has the resources and support they need to thrive.

Q: What would you tell someone considering working at UMBC?

A: I would tell them that they have the opportunity to be part of an exceptional community that is deeply committed to making a positive impact on student’s lives and contributing to society’s greater good. If you are passionate about education, committed to excellence, and eager to contribute to something greater than yourself, UMBC is the perfect place to build a fulfilling and meaningful career.

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UMBC’s greatest strength is its people. When people meet Retrievers and hear about the passion they bring, the relationships they create, the ways they support each other, and the commitment they have to inclusive excellence, they truly get a sense of our community. That’s what “Meet a Retriever” is all about.

Learn more about how UMBC can help you achieve your goals.

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