written by Janice Mukhia
UNC Charlotte had robust representation and received several awards at this year’s 2023 North Carolina Campus Engagement (NCCE) Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement (PACE) Conference. A diverse group of students, staff and faculty from interdisciplinary majors joined Chancellor Sharon Gaber in representing the University’s longstanding commitment to community engagement and engaged scholarship. The Conference was held February 15, 2023 at High Point University with over 200 representatives from 32 institutions across five states in attendance. PACE Conference is geared to inform and advance the research and practice of community and civic engagement.
The Conference kickstarted with the opening session at the Presidents Forum featuring a welcome and state of the network address from Leslie Garvin, Executive Director of NCCE and Dr. Nido Qubein, President of High Point University. This was followed by the Engagement Awards Ceremony facilitated by Meg Ham, President and CEO of Food Lion, LLC and Dr. Kelli Brown, NCCE Executive Board Chair and Chancellor of Western Carolina University.
UNC Charlotte’s Jamil Niner Student Pantry placed first in the Collegiate Hunger Challenge. Fourteen college pantries from across the state participated in the Challenge that ran from September 26, 2022 to January 6, 2023. MVP Student Hunger Ambassador, Matthew McGrew and Mentor, Jes Dormady, Assistant Director of Leadership and Community Engagement at UNC Charlotte received $10,000 as winners of the Food Lion Feeds Collegiate Hunger Challenge. The NC Collegiate Hunger Challenge is part of a partnership between NC Campus Engagement and Food Lion, LLC grocery stores and Food Lion Feeds that addresses student food insecurity. The cash awards and gift cards are used to support campus-led food security initiatives.
The Conference served as a learning opportunity for UNC Charlotte students and an opportunity for staff and faculty to showcase ongoing community engagement efforts.
Susana Cisneros, Senior Lecturer from the Department of Language and Culture studies at UNC Charlotte and the 2022-2023 Engaged Faculty Scholar, served as a presenter at the ‘Engaged Faculty Scholar Table Talks’ session. Cisneros’ project engages students in exploring the City of Charlotte to learn about the Blue light rail’s access to services and resources where Spanish is spoken. As part of the project students learned about economic mobility, language capital, public and private transportation and the price of time, while reflecting on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion of the services and resources in Charlotte. The project will culminate in the creation of a bi-lingual website that includes articles and videos highlighting services and resources provided by the Blue Line light rail, or within walking distance.
urbanCORE sponsored two UNC Charlotte students to attend the Conference. urbanCORE interns Zoe Parson and David Rodriguez were part of the UNC Charlotte team at the Conference. “I attended the Conference because I wanted to learn about strategies to engage students in civic and community work and hear diverse perspectives from leaders at various universities” said Saliseah Scales, urbanCORE student engagement fellow. Zoe Parson who is a health system management major at UNC Charlotte stated the Conference gave her a better insight on how community engagement initiatives need the support of leaders who are at the helm of making strategic decisions. “I now have a clearer outlook on what can be changed, and how and who to collaborate with to cultivate changes” said Parson. David Rodriguez who currently serves as Civic Engagement Coordinator for urbanCORE, received the Community Impact Student Award (CISA), which honors a student leader at each NCCE member school. David was selected for his outstanding leadership and service.
urbanCORE is the hub of UNC Charlotte’s engaged scholarship. CORE is an acronym for Community-Oriented Research and Engagement.) urbanCORE mobilizes, assesses and advances efforts that connect the University's interdisciplinary, urban research resources to community assets in order to "co-produce transformative solutions to societal issues and challenges." For more information on urbanCORE visit https://urbancore.charlotte.edu.