UMBC Women Who Rock is a new blog series that will run throughout the 2014-15 academic year. In my role as Women’s Center director, I have some of the best opportunities to become acquainted with many of UMBC’s best and brightest women on campus. I admire the ways they live authentic lives unapologetically that challenge the stereotypes and assumptions that are often assigned to women. By debunking these stereotypes and forcing us to check our assumptions, they allow us to expand our notion of what a woman is and can be.
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August’s UMBC Women Who Rock:
Amanda Knapp, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Provost, Academic Standards and Policy Administration
I remember the exact moment Amanda gave me the opportunity to challenge my assumptions about her and women. Before an Undergraduate Academic Affairs Leadership Team meeting began, we were sitting next to each other talking about our weekends. Amanda ever so nonchalantly mentioned she was bike riding all weekend. I naturally assumed cycling to which she corrected me – no motorcycles. She went on to talk about how she rides throughout the countryside with her family on their motocross bikes and how she’s ridden since she was a small child (while I picked the bottom of my mouth back up from the table). I have to admit, it was an activity I would have never pegged Amanda to do, yet alone love so much.
Fast forward a few months later to this week’s University Retreat. On the first afternoon, Dr. Hrabowski took us through an activity he recently experienced that compared various universities to different types of car manufacturers (by the way, as an up and coming university, UMBC, was compared to Tesla). At the next morning’s opening remarks, on the screen was a magazine cover of American Motorcyclist featuring Amanda with her motocross bike on UMBC’s Academic Row. I immediately thought it was a cool picture but also thought it had to be photoshopped and we were getting ready to do another comparison activity using motorcycles to go along with the car/university comparisons from the day before.
On the screen was truly the most recent magazine cover of American Motorcyclist featuring our very own Amanda Knapp. Dr. Hrabowski went on to explain how the magazine highlighted Amanda in their cover story called “Changing Perceptions” and that it was an excellent account of Amanda’s reflections related to riding motorcycles, her family, work –life balance, and the way she tackles those unfounded stereotypes. Needless to say, I needed to get my hands on a copy of that cover and the article inside!
When I emailed Amanda later that day, she was quick to not only share the photos and article but to bring yet another UMBC woman into the ever unfolding story. When the American Motorcyclist Association began to search for a freelance photographer in the area to take Amanda’s photos, they found Marlayna Demond – another UMBC staff member (and alum of UMBC!). Without even knowing there was a UMBC connection, they asked her to do the job. The end result was the front cover of American Motorcyclist, with a readership of over 200,000, made possible through the work of two accomplished UMBC women (another fun fact: neither one of them knew they made the cover of the magazine until it showed up in their mailboxes). Now that’s just badass.
I’m linking the article to Amanda’s story (here on pages 42-43) in this post because I wouldn’t even want to summarize it because Amanda’s story is truly one worth reading. Moreover, she reflects on the challenges (and pride!) she’s had in defying stereotypes related to being a woman motorcyclist and her hopes for the future that will allow the sport to be a sought after adventure for little girls just as much as it already is for little boys. With each sentence, I felt more proud to know Amanda and have the opportunity to work with her (and, really, we should get lunch together soon!). I find it even more inspiring knowing she’s sharing this journey with her three young children. But, really, read the article for yourself (and check out those awesome photos taken by Marlayna!). I promise by the end you’ll know why I picked Amanda to help kick off this new series of UMBC Women Who Rock.
Over the past few years, I’ve gotten into the habit of taking an extra step when I give compliments about women’s appearances. It most often goes something like, “You’re so beautiful… and smart!” or “You look great today… and you’re smart!” Some people find it to be silly and often laugh, but I’m always serious. I’m tired of only complimenting women on their appearances. I want to be complimented for my intelligence, my compassion, my courage… the things you may often not see on the surface but as the foundation to everything I most love about myself. So, I’m giving what I want to get… Amanda, way to rock those heels… your sense of adventure inspires me…. and you’re smart!
Who are the UMBC women in your life that inspire you to think outside your expectations and assumptions? What are the counter narrative stories they’re sharing with us allowing UMBC and our greater community to be more of exactly who we want to be? Comment below and maybe you’ll just find them featured in a future UMBC Women Who Rock post.