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 136 national cemeteries with younger students and the general public.

In 2017, the NCA selected UCF as one of three schools awarded contracts as inaugural VLP partners. In 2018, it became one of nine schools participating in the VLP nationwide. 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 and graduate students in UCF courses in 2017 and 2018 created digital learning tools, conducted research to find primary sources, and wrote biographies of over 130 veterans commemorated at four national cemeteries—two in Florida and two in eastern France: Florida National Cemetery, St. Augustine National Cemetery, the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery. In 2018, our research focused on the history of two major conflicts in US history: the Seminole Wars and World War I. Over many months, our team of graduate and undergraduate research assistants wrote, edited and finalized biographies, created digital resources, assisted area K-12 teachers in the construction of instructional materials, and assisted with the website.

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.

Project Personnel

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Holly McDonald, MFA
Holly McDonald, MFAclose Holly is an Associate Lecturer with UCF’s School of Performing Arts, as well as a Women’s and Gender Studies Faculty Affiliate. Course development and instruction include, but are not limited to, Theatre for Social Change, Diversity in Theatre, Global Theatre, Women in Western Theatre & Queer Theatre. Ms. McDonald is an ALLY member, as well as a Secular Safe Zone participant. Ms. McDonald plans to continue her career as a teaching-artist to activate, engage and empower students in the development of their craft.
Kayla Campana
Kayla Campanaclose Kayla Campana is an Office Assistant in the History Department at the University of Central Florida. Working with other staff members and faculty, Kayla aids in coordinating departmental events including lectures, workshops, and speaker series, in addition to working on a number of departmental projects. Along with her role as a full time staff member, Kayla earned her BA in History and is currently a History MA candidate at UCF. Her thesis and research centers on nursing and psychological trauma in World War I. Kayla examines the gendered aspects of war trauma through convalescent homes and rest clubs designed for nurses. Following the completion of her MA degree, Kayla seeks to pursue a Ph.D. in History.
James Clark, PhD
James Clark, PhDclose Jim is the author of numerous academic and general audience books and articles on Florida history. His most recent academic text is Red Pepper and Gorgeous George: Claude Pepper’s Epic Defeat in the 1950 Democratic Primary (Florida, 2011). He is also the author of Hidden Histories of Florida (2015), Florida: A Concise History (2014) among others. Jim earned his PhD from the University of Florida after a distinguished career in journalism where he worked in Orlando and Washington DC for the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press, among other news organizations.
Alicia Duffy
Alicia Duffyclose Alicia teaches the introductory US history survey at UCF. She has a background in museums and non-profit work at Memphis Museums Incorporated and the Center of DuPage in Illinois. Alicia earned her MA in history from the University of Memphis, where she worked on the intersections of material culture and women’s history.

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
    Mike Burke
    Elizabeth Corsi
    Sahar Eissa
    Jason Fitzgerald
    Nikki Hearn
    Erika Heredia
    Gerald Liles
    Gramond McPherson
    Evan Murray
    Walter Napier
    Brandon Nightingale
    Harper Norris
    Rhiannon O'Neill
    Marie Oury
    Matt Patsis
    Keith Richards
    Harrison Smith
    James Stoddard
    Casey Wolf
    Daniela Aguirre (Army veteran)
    Sofie Barrett
    Maria Julia Cabail
    Courtney Chester-Romsey
    Tim Dorsch
    Sahar Eissa
    Erika Heredia
    Andrew Kishuni
    Elizabeth Klements
    Gramond McPherson
    Walter Napier
    Sarah Nazarian
    Harper Norris
    Rhiannon O’Neil
    Marie Oury
    Jesslyn Parrish
    Matt Patsis
    Sharon Rodriguez
    Jim Stoddard
    Rachel Williams
  • 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
    Maria Julia Cabail
    Kayla Gey
    Waneka Meshun Leary
    Sara Nazarian
    Sofia Pultro
    Teraesa Redmond
    Reed Renfrow
    Michael Reyenga
    Mia Tignor
    Micah Wheeler

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)
    David Boudreaux (Hillcrest Elementary)
    Mary Love (Haines City High School)
    Dana Maddox (Avalon Elementary)
    Stacy Moser (Lakeland High School)
    Cory Painter (Avalon Elementary)
    Ashley Rosenberg (Timber Creek High School)
    Silvia Schenk (Blankner Elementary)
    Jason Stano (Timber Creek High School)
    Marius Tesch (Timber Creek High School)
    David Boudreaux (Hillcrest Elementary)
    Ashley Rosenberg (Timber Creek High School)
    Marius Tesch (Timber Creek High School)

Our research team is grateful to all of the people who have made this collaborative work possible. For both 2017 and 2018, we want to extend our thanks to:

Mr. Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Mr. Randy Reeves, Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs
Mr. Ron Walters, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs
Mr. Glenn Powers, Deputy Under Secretary for Field Programs and Cemetery Operations
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. Stephan J Frank, Executive Director, Southeast District, National Cemetery Administration
Mr. Alphaeus Richburg, Director, St. Augustine and Jacksonville National Cemetery
Mr. Kurt Rotar, Director, Florida National Cemetery (retired)
Mr. Roberto Pizarro, Assistant Director, Florida National Cemetery
Ms. Eugenia L. Simmons, Assistant Director, Bay Pines National Cemetery

Dr. Elizabeth A. Dooley, UCF Provost
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. Lynn Hepner, 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. Kacey Stensrud, Research Program/Services Coordinator, UCF College of Arts and Humanities
Ms. Denise Matias, Senior Accountant, UCF College of Arts and Humanities
Ms. Heather Smith, UCF Communications and Marketing Vice President
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. Heather Smith, Director of Communications, UCF
Ms. Rachel Williams, Communications Specialist, UCF
Mr. Anthony Moore, Communications Coordinator, 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
Mr. Kirk Lundblade, Applications Systems Analyst Programmer, UCF Department of History
Dr. Mike Shier, Publications Coordinator, UCF Center for Humanities and Digital Research

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
St. Augustine High School ROTC Color Guard
Brent Reynolds, MAJ, USA (RET), Senior Army Instructor, Jacket Battalion, St. Augustine High School
Mr. John Donlon, Musician
Ms. Julie Gulliver and the Rogue Scholar Home School Group
Karyn O'Connell, Secretary, Little River Elementary School
Ervin Alexander, 4th Grade Teacher, Little River Elementary School
Kasheema Louis, 4th Grade Teacher, Little River Elementary School
Sonia Felix, 4th Grade Teacher, Little River Elementary School
Emy Delgado, 4th Grade Teacher, Little River Elementary School

The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum
Rebecca Fell, Curator of Exhibits
Mary Beth Rosebrough, Research Coordinator
Alyssa Boge, Education Coordinator
Tara Backhouse, Collections Manager

Tribal Historic Preservation Office, Seminole Tribe of Florida
Domonique deBeaubien, Bioarchaeologist
David Scheidecker, Researcher Coordinator

Mr. Steve Rinck and Mr. Frank Laumer, and Mrs. Dale Laumer of the Seminole Wars Foundation

Ms. Alison Simpson, Florida National Guard Command Historian
Lt. Col. Brian Fallon, Quartermaster, Florida National Guard
Mr. Charles Tingley, Senior Research Librarian, St. Augustine Historical Society
Ms. Jenny Wolfe, Historic Preservation Officer
Mr. Michael Rothfeld, Veterans Council of St. Johns County
Mr. Joseph Naftzinger, Veterans Council of St. Johns County
Mr. Tom Fitzgerald, Solemn Pride

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