Amenta received her A.B. from Wheaton College in 1965. Following this, she attended Bryn Mawr College where she received a master's degree and then a PhD in organic chemistry. Her advisor was Dr. Frank Mallory. Upon graduation, she joined James Madison University as non-tenure track faculty and staff positions. After working her way up to tenure-track, she became head of the department in 1998, serving as head until 2008. She is a full professor teaching in the Chemistry/Biochemistry Department.