Finding Community and More in the African American Cultural Center
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Gwen Hopper, one of the African American Cultural Center’s office assistants, is a sophomore majoring in chemistry from Gastonia. She began working in the AACC this past August. “I wanted to work somewhere that had a community,” Hopper said.
“I think the AACC is important because it really gives students a sense of community,” she said. “Since we have the African American Cultural Center and the library, it allows students to learn about their culture while experiencing it.”
The African American Cultural Center hosts a number of events that help foster a sense of community among diverse students. Hopper shared, “The African American Cultural Center puts on events that I never knew that I needed, to just feel comfortable in my own space, and it’s a safe space.”
“My biggest impactful experience here would have to be ‘What’s on the Table’,” said Hopper. “You just learn different perspectives from different people. So, some of the things that I thought I was really strict on and I thought I was going to stay in my ways, I go and hear these different perspectives and it really opens me up to different points of view.” What’s On the Table is the African American Cultural Center’s weekly discussion group. The meetings, held on Friday afternoons throughout the semester, are open to anyone who wants to drop by.
Hopper assists visitors, answers questions and checks people in for meetings with the AACC staff. “As far as giving back, I help the center by setting up for events and contributing my time and opinions as best as I can to help the center grow,” she said. “They’re under a new administration, and I really want to make the transition easier by doing whatever they need me to do.”
Like our other campus community centers, the African American Cultural Center focuses on the importance of mental health and self-awareness. Hopper said that working at the AACC has helped her practice self-care more and has also improved her time management skills.
“Seeing how everyone in the office organizes themselves helps me organize myself,” she said.
African American Cultural Center Librarian Angela Jenkins attests to Hopper’s high level of service to the center. “Gwen is always in and on time for her shift at the AACC and is very personable and helpful to visitors. She is focused and totally aware of everything around her and is serious about her studies and her work.”
Austin Butler is a communications intern in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity. She is a senior majoring in science, technology and society.