Decoding Vampires Already
Amanda Martinez was only into her first year at DU when she was recognized as a scholar and invited to present at an international conference on one of her favorite topics: Buffy the Vampire Slayer!
It all began last fall when Martinez, who is studying business management and psychology, took "Gender, Feminism, Power and Pop Culture: Decoding Buffy the Vampire Slayer," a first-year seminar (FSEM) taught by Jodie Kreider, visiting assistant professor of history.
"We always had amazing conversations surrounding Buffy tVS and current pop culture," said Martinez, who enjoyed studying the TV show that she loves in an in-depth and collaborative space with others just as passionate as her.
"Everyone always brought their own perspective to the conversations to make it interesting, and on top of that, we got to watch episodes in class and then discuss them together afterwards," she said. "The whole experience was wonderful and was something I looked forward to during the week."
For the FSEM's final project, students had the opportunity to write an article on Buffy tVS or create a lesson plan structuring a class around the topic of the show.
"I chose to do a lesson plan surrounding addiction and how it's conveyed in the show," she said, "along with how the way viewers perceived it when the show first came out and how it is different from how we see it with today's beliefs surrounding addiction."
Kreider was so impressed with her final project, that she asked Martinez if she was interested in presenting at the Whedon Studies Conference in Florence, Alabama in June, 2018.
The Whedon Studies Conference is held every summer to bring together fans and scholars of Joss Whedon, a screenwriter and director most well-known for creating and writing the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Martinez heard about this great opportunity, she jumped right in.
To apply to the conference, Martinez submitted a short synopsis of her project, along with a complete write up of the conference application. Kreider is a well-known scholar of Whedon, so she helped Martinez every step of the way by ensuring the right people saw her proposal.
"After a few months, we received an email from the head of Whedon Studies congratulating us on our acceptance into the conference," she said. "It was all very surreal, especially because the woman who emailed us was one of the main scholars we actively read from throughout our class."
Martinez's FSEM class came to life, or rather came back to life, in Alabama where she met plenty of other passionate fans of Buff tVS. "The experience was absolutely life-changing," she said.
Martinez gained the unique experience of being around other professionals who are passionate and well versed in a specific topic, something that most undergraduates don't usually experience.
"We met people from all around the world and were all able to talk about Buffy and be a scholar in a welcoming environment," she said.
At one point, she even participated in a musical episode sing-along dinner. "Getting to meet the people we read from throughout the class and being around so many diverse individuals who have something so unique in common, was such a rewarding feeling," she said.
Martinez is proving to be a leader on campus. During her first year, she ran for the CAHSS Student Advisory Council and was elected chair of the first year engagement committee, a fitting role for a student who jumped right in her first year. She joined SAC to get involved in different aspects of the college experience and to ensure students get the tools they need to succeed.
"I hope to connect to as many first-years as possible and implement programs that help them to thrive at DU through student orgs and community service," she said.
She also hopes to study abroad in the future in a culture that she is not familiar with so that she can grow and learn in a new way of life. Who knows, she may end up studying abroad in Romania, the origin country of Dracula, to further her studies of vampires.