NCA–UCF Partnership

Meet the Team

NCA–UCF Partnership

In May 2016, Under Secretary Ron Walters of the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) launched the Veterans Legacy Program (VLP). His vision for the VLP is “to memorialize Veterans’ service to the nation by telling their stories.” The VLP’s goal, according to Dr. Bryce Carpenter, NCA’s Educational Outreach Program Officer, is to partner with “academic communities”–scholars and students–to conduct “research about veterans’ lives, veterans in their local cemeteries” and to be able to share these stories of service and sacrifice from the 135 national cemeteries with younger students and the general public.

The NCA selected UCF as one of three schools awarded contracts as inaugural VLP partners. UCF is proud of its partnership with the NCA. As Dr. Barbara Gannon has stated, UCF “was made for this program.” The History Department and the Center for Humanities and Digital Research (CHDR) are committed to doing publicly engaged research. Our partnership with NCA builds on a number of ongoing and relevant research projects, including the UCF Community Veterans History Project and RICHES digital archive.

Undergraduate students in three UCF courses in Spring 2017 researched and wrote biographies of over 100 veterans commemorated at Florida National Cemetery. Their research focused on the experiences of individual veterans and their contribution to our national history. Over the summer semester, our team of graduate and undergraduate research assistants wrote, edited and finalized student biographies, assisted area K-12 teachers in the construction of instructional materials, and assisted with the website and mobile app biographies.

Our partnership honors veterans and brings cemeteries alive for students—at universities, elementary, middle and high schools—through a range of instructional materials and interactive digital history tools. A big part of this partnership is to showcase “what the humanities can do in a real world setting.” As Dr. Caroline Cheong describes it, we show students how scholars work in the field, interact with the community, and breathe life into history by “telling the stories of our nation’s veterans.”

Principal Investigators

Click on cards for bios.
Amelia Lyons, PhD
Amelia Lyons, PhDclose Dr. Amelia Lyons serves as the lead researcher and primary contact for UCF’s Veterans Legacy Program. She is associate professor and the Director of Graduate Programs for the UCF History Department. A specialist of modern European and France, Dr. Lyons’ work examines the intersection of French colonialism, the Algerian War for Independence, the welfare state and immigration. She is the author of numerous articles and The Civilizing Mission in the Metropole: Algerian Families and the French Welfare State (Stanford University Press, 2013). She teaches historiography, research methods, women’s history, and the histories of France, World War I, World War II, and decolonization. She has embraced the UCF history department’s commitment to do publicly engaged history and research with students; the VLP services as one important example of this commitment.
Barbara Gannon, PhD
Barbara Gannon, PhDclose Barbara A. Gannon is currently an associate professor of history at the University of Central Florida (UCF). She received her B.A. from Emory University in Atlanta, an M.A. from George Washington University in Washington DC, and a PhD from The Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic (UNC Press, 2011), an examination of the black and white members of the Union Army’s largest veterans’ organization. This book received the Wiley-Silver Prize (University of Mississippi) for the best first book on the Civil War, was recognized with an honorable mention by the Lincoln Prize Committee 2012 (Gilder Lehrman Institute), and was a finalist for the Jefferson Davis Prize (Museum of the Confederacy). She recently completed a second book, Americans Remember their Civil War (Praeger, 2017). She has published on a wide variety of subjects including black soldiers in the Civil War, an African American women who served in a white Civil War regiment as a nurse, and the early battles in the Civil War’s western theater. She is also the coordinator for UCF’s Community Veterans History project, an oral history program, and a veteran of the United States Army.
Amy Larner Giroux, PhD
Amy Larner Giroux, PhDclose Dr. Amy Larner Giroux has been a board-certified genealogist since 1996 and board-certified lecturer since 2005. Her research focuses on cemeteries including studies of iconography and the physical placement of cemeteries. Her work on ethnic burial identifiers in St. Michael’s Cemetery (Pensacola) won Best in Category for Social Sciences at the 2010 UCF Graduate Research Forum, and her analysis of cemetery placement in Northeast Florida won first place at the 2009 Florida Academy of Sciences annual meeting. She has explored cemeteries across the U.S., Europe, and the Caribbean. Dr. Giroux's broad skillset includes genealogical and anthropological research, statistical analysis of research data, computer programming, website development, and project management.
Scot French, PhD
Scot French, PhDclose Dr. Scot A. French is a digital public historian specializing in the study of cultural landscapes and sites of memory associated with African American and Southern history. He is the author of The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory (Houghton Mifflin, 2004) and co-author, with Craig Barton and Peter Flora, of Booker T. Washington Elementary School and Segregated Education in Virginia (National Park Service, 2007). Dr. French received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Virginia in 2000, directed the Virginia Center for Digital History from 2006-2010, and joined the faculty at the University of Central Florida in 2011. He is an Associate Professor of History, Director of Public History, interim Co-Director of the Center for Humanities and Digital Research, and a core faculty member in the Texts & Technology doctoral program at UCF.

For the Veterans Legacy Program, French assigned students in his undergraduate course, Viewing American History (Spring 2017), to conduct research and write biographical sketches of selected veterans at Florida National Cemetery. He also supervised the VLP project team’s use of VisualEyes, a web-based authoring tool that several participating K-12 teachers have adopted for the development and presentation of veterans-focused curriculum.
Caroline Cheong, PhD
Caroline Cheong, PhDclose Caroline Cheong is an assistant professor in the University of Central Florida’s History department. Her research spans historic preservation and economic development, focusing on the relationship between urban heritage conservation, urban regeneration and poverty reduction. She earned her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in City and Regional Planning, her MS in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and her BS in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. She was a US/ICOMOS International Exchange Intern in Al Houson, Jordan and a Graduate Intern at the Getty Conservation Institute where she evaluated the challenges and opportunities facing historic cities. Previously, Caroline was the Director of Research for Heritage Strategies International and PlaceEconomics through which she published numerous research reports and professional publications focusing on the economic impacts of historic preservation with preservation economist Donovan Rypkema.
John Sacher, PhD
John Sacher, PhDclose Dr. John Sacher serves as the VLP’s liaison to local school districts. He has worked on more than 25 Teaching American History (TAH) grants across the nation. In particular, he has extensive experience working with Orange County Public Schools (OCPS). He served as an advisory committee member on one OCPS TAH grant and as Lead Historian on another. Additionally, he worked with the Orange County History Center and OCPS on coordinating teacher workshops for five years. His research focuses on politics and society in the nineteenth-century South, particularly during the Civil War era. His book, A Perfect War of Politics: Parties, Politicians, and Democracy in Louisiana, 1824-1861, examines antebellum politics and secession in Louisiana. He is currently working on a book on conscription in the Confederacy. This study will use conscription as a lens to view both Confederate identity and the internal strains within the South during the Civil War.
Tiffany Rivera, MA
Tiffany Rivera, MAclose Serving as the Assistant Director of Educational and Training Programs in the University of Central Florida’s History Department, Tiffany C. Rivera facilitates community outreach and educational program development. She supports the department with communication and event planning. Rivera also manages the daily operation of the UCF Community Veterans History Project by developing training programs, cultivating partnerships and overseeing the internal processing of oral histories. Additionally, she provides communication and program support for the RICHES™ Mosaic Interface as well as other public history initiatives and grant-funded projects.

Rivera studied at Grambling State University earning both a Bachelor and a Master of Arts in Communication/Public Relations.

National Cemetery Administration & Florida National Cemetery Partners

Click on cards for bios.
Bryce Carpenter, PhD
Bryce Carpenter, PhDclose Coming Soon.
Roberto C. Pizarro
Roberto C. Pizarroclose Coming Soon.

Student Team Members

  • listResearch Assistants
    Holly Baker
    Mark Barnes
    Luke Bohmer
    Mike Burke
    Tyler Campbell
    Lehman Connolly (Marine Corps veteran)
    Ken Holliday (Army veteran)
    Karen Kelly
    Gramond McPherson
    Harper Norris
    Samuel Ortiz
    Abigail Padfield
    Katie Rios
    Sarah Schneider
    James Stoddard (Marine Corps veteran)
    Rachel Street
    Katherine Thurlow
  • listEvent Support
    Kayla Campana
    Porsha Dossie
    Drew Fulcher
    John Grande (Marine Corps veteran)
    Andrew Ortiz
  • listVolunteers
    Evan Murray
    Allison Stanley
    Haley Taylor
    Edward Vipatasilpin
    Alexander Zimmerman

K-12 Curriculum Team

  • listK-12 Team Members
    Joseph Brown (Avalon Elementary)
    Chris Burnett (Avalon Elementary)
    Kendra Hazen (Davenport School of the Arts)
    Clementine Kreitz (Hillcrest Elementary)
    Christina Kroder (Avalon Elementary)
    Mary Love (Haines City High School)
    Dana Maddox (Avalon Elementary)
    Malika Mami (Hillcrest Elementary)
    Stacy Moser (Lakeland High School)
    Cory Painter (Avalon Elementary)
    Pilar Renfroe (Tangelo Park Elementary)
    Silvia Schenk (Hillcrest Elementary)
    Beth Zabel (Avalon Elementary)
    Julie Zaldana (Avalon Elementary)

Our research team is grateful to all of the people who have made this collaborative work possible. We want to extend our thanks to:

Mr. Ron Walters, Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs
Mr. Glenn Powers, Deputy Under Secretary
Mr. Tom Howard, National Cemetery Administration Chief of Staff
Dr. Bryce Carpenter, Educational Outreach Programs Officer, National Cemetery Administration
Ms. Jessica Schiefer, Public Affairs, National Cemetery Administration
Ms. Bridget Jimenez, Veterans Legacy Program Intern, National Cemetery Administration
Mr. Kurt Rotar, Director, Florida National Cemetery (retired)
Mr. Roberto Pizarro, Assitant Director, Florida National Cemetery

Mr. Jeffrey Moore, Dean of UCF’s College of Arts and Humanities
Mr. Lyman Brodie, Executive Associate Dean, UCF College of Arts and Humanities
Dr. Rudy McDaniel, Director of UCF’s School of Visual Arts and Design
Dr. Peter Larson, Chair, UCF’s History Department
Dr. Connie Lester, Associate Professor, UCF History Department, Director of RICHES
Dr. Bruce Janz, Professor, UCF Philosophy Department, co-Director of the Center for Humanities and Digital Research
Dr. Mark Kamrath, Professor, UCF English Department, co-Director of the Center for Humanities and Digital Research

Ms. Jane Gentilini, Associate Director Contracts & Grants Research & Commercialization at UCF
Ms. Heather Gibson, Director of Public Relations, UCF College of Arts and Humanities
Ms. Kristin Wetherbee, Director of Research Programs/Services, UCF College of Arts and Humanities
Ms. Pamela McGlinchey, Research Program/Services Coordinator, UCF College of Arts and Humanities

Ms. Barbara Abney, Director Marketing/Communications, UCF
Mr. Gene Kruckemyer, UCF News and Information
Ms. Laura Cole, Managing Editor, Pegasus Magazine, UCF
Mr. Bernard Wilchusky, Pegasus Magazine, UCF

Ms. Sira Ambrosecchia, Administrative Services Coordinator, UCF Department of History
Ms. Kayla Campana, Office Assistant, UCF Department of History
Mr. Eli Patterson, Applications Systems Analyst Programmer, UCF Department of History
Mr. Geoffrey Cravero, Program Assistant, UCF Department of History

Cindy Braaten, Assistant Principal, Davenport School of the Arts
South Sumter High Navy Jr. ROTC
Senior Chief Victor Martinez
Greg Arpin, Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 1036 The Villages
Tom Miller, Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 1036 The Villages
Stafford Perry, Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 1036 The Villages
Ron Wygonik, Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 1036 The Villages

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