The Center for Belonging & Engagement kicked off Black History Month with Mama's Kitchen, a program to celebrate the history of soul food.

The Center for Belonging & Engagement (CBE) welcomed all University of North Texas students to its space in University Union to enjoy food from local favorite Clara’s Kitchen while celebrating the history of soul food. The event was one of the first for the new center, which officially opened Dec. 18, 2023. 

As UNT students returned to campus, CBE staff have been working together to plan the spring calendar. The center has already hosted the Campus and Community Resource Fair to help UNT's non-traditional, off-campus, commuter, and graduate student populations get better connected with resources on and off campus. It also organized Professional Picture Day for UNT students to get free professional-quality headshots, ideal for networking, interviewing and internships.

As the semester continues, students will find familiar programs and activities, like the celebration of heritage months, and discover new opportunities as well.

“We’re committed to cultivating a campus environment where students of all experiences are appreciated,” said Melissa McGuire, associate vice president for student affairs.  “Our mission is to offer programs and services that promote a sense of belonging for all students and help ensure student success.”

The CBE is a space for all Mean Green students. Located in the University Union in room 335, students are welcome to drop by, visit, hang out, study and relax.  Within the space, there are sitting areas, games, computer stations, reading materials and a large-screen television. The area is designed to be student focused, open and welcoming.

“The Center for Belonging & Engagement space is made by students, for students,” said David Muñoz-Sarabia, student assistant in the center. “Welcoming spaces are crucial. They make our Mean Green family better! They spark connections, make new friends, and build a community. Welcoming spaces make you feel included when you may feel alone.” 

The CBE has been structured to support the success of all UNT students while providing opportunities for connection, involvement and belonging. Staff includes nontraditional student services, the First-Generation Student Center, Student Veteran Services and staff from the former Pride Alliance and Multicultural Center. They all are working together to develop programming and services to support the overarching mission and vision for the center.

“The Center for Belonging & Engagement is truly a center for all members of the UNT student community,” McGuire said. “It’s a new department dedicated to designing programs and activities to serve our students.”

The next CBE event will be a Lunch & Learn, Monday, Feb. 19, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  More events are planned, including Women’s History Month programming in collaboration with UNT’s Women’s and Gender Studies and ConversASIAN in celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month. Look for more programs and events on the CBE website.