Amanda grew up on a farm in rural northeast Missouri and discovered her love of international experiences through interacting with people from around the world as a first generation college student at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She followed this interest abroad, spending several summers as an international student at Xinjiang University in far western China and as a volunteer teacher in Kazakhstan. After completing degrees in sociology and philosophy, she invested a year studying Uyghur language and culture at Xinjiang University, then taught English and studied language in Azerbaijan and Turkey before returning to the U.S. to pursue an MA in linguistic anthropology at the University of Kansas. Her research focused on Uyghur meshrep (a gathering that combines a rich array of practices, including music, oral literary traditions, and games to teach lessons about cultural norms) finding that while Uyghurs in Xinjiang can no longer hold these gatherings in their homes, the word itself has become a symbol of Uyghur identity.
She joined the CEAS team in early 2018 and serves as the assistant director. Her work includes grant management and outreach for the Title VI National Resource Center grant. She also serves as the FLAS coordinator for East Asian languages and the associate director for the Kansas Consortium for Teaching about Asia.