Amber Holton-Thomas, Ph.D.

Amber Holton-Thomas, Ph.D.

Amber Holton-Thomas, Ph.D.


Higher education, federal financial aid policy, Pell Grants, Women in higher education, nontraditional and contemporary students in higher education, critical quantitative methods, critical theory

Dr. Amber Holton-Thomas is currently serving as the Director of the First-Gen+ Center within the Division of University Life. The First-Gen+ Center team focuses intently on the support, advocacy and success of first-generation college students broadly and within that community, increased advocacy for undocumented college students (includes undocumented, students protected by DACA or TPS, asylees, and refugees). You can learn more about the department here: She is also an Affiliate Faculty member in the Higher Education Program.

Prior to her time at George Mason University, she served as an Associate Director for the Center for Leadership and Social Change at Florida State University working directly with programs that centered leadership education and development, social justice education (through a Living Learning Community), and co-led the Diversity & Inclusion Certificate, a partnership between Human Resources and the Center. She also spent time at New York University in the Center for Multicultural Education focusing on peer education development and at the New York University School of Medicine as a graduate program manager for physicians seeking advanced post-residency training in medical education and clinical epidemiology.

She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and is a proud first-generation college graduate and the only member of her family to hold a Doctor of Philosophy degree. She enjoys traveling to see the world, enjoys hiking, writing, baking and spending time with her family. She is also an active member of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Incorporated.

Selected Publications

Hampton, A. E. (2019). Dialogue and Leadership Learning. In Jillian M. Volpe White, K. L. Guthrie, & M.  Torres (Eds.), Thinking with purpose: Facilitating reflection in leadership learning (pp. xx-xx). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Hampton, A. & Perez-Felkner, L. (2018). Getting what they came for? Non-traditional students’ degree attainment.  Paper presented at American Sociological Association, Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.

Guthrie, K. & Hampton, A.E. (2016). So just make a difference:  A unique approach to social justice education.  eJournal of Public Affairs.                                              

Brower, R.L., Cox, B.E., & Hampton, A.E. (2016). No adult left behind: Student affairs practices targeting adult undergraduates. ACPA Developments.

Courses Taught

HE 705: Access and Social Justice in Higher Education

HE 706: Postsecondary Students in Higher Education

HE 897: Independent Study (by student proposal/invitation)


Amber completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005 with a double-major in Psychology and Spanish from Capital University. During her undergraduate career she also took classes at Cuyahoga Community College as well as studied for a semester abroad at the Universidad de Granada in Spain.

Her graduate career included completion of her Master of Arts degree in Higher Education in 2007 from New York University and her Doctor of Philosophy degree awarded in May 2019 in Higher Education and Public Policy from Florida State University. During her doctoral work, she also completed a Certificate in Institutional Research.

Her dissertation, "Education as Feminism for Nontraditional Aged Women Receiving Pell Grants" guides her primary research interests and passion for higher education.