DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Back in 2013, NC Central made history when it became the first HBCU in North Carolina to open an LGBTA Resource Center.
Next year, they will move it to the new student center on campus, which will help increase its visibility, reflective of its growth over the past eight years.
"Firstly I wanted to be on an HBCU campus which is partially why I came to NCCU. But when I got here I was so amazed by the fact that there was an LGBTA Resource Center," said Eric Martin, who finished his undergraduate studies at NC Central in 2020 and is now a graduate student and lead programming graduate assistant at the NCCU Women's Center.
He was a Lavender Liaison, who assisted staff in programming and outreach efforts.
"I was around people who looked like me. I was around people who were similar in interests as me. But I was also able to find a different section of identity. I was able to find different ways to outreach that weren't typical to HBCUs," said Martin.
The center provides sensitivity and leadership training as well as career readiness and development, with many of its offering student-led.
"We do a lot of work of trying to bring everyone in for the sake of inclusion and making sure like I said that students are seen holistically. We don't want any student to leave our center without learning something," said Martin.
"It aids in identity development. It aids in professional development. And also it just helps to fill out the culture here on our campus," said Jennifer Williams, the Program Coordinator for the LGBTA Resource Center.
Its presence serves as an important voice in policy discussions.
"We have folks who have been through our trainings, who are connected with the LGBTA Resource Center to say 'This is an issue, we should address it.' Not only because it impacts our campus culture and our community, but because it also impacts our fellow Eagle," said Williams, who also serves as Interim Director of NCCU's Women's Center and Associate Director of the Department of Diversity & Inclusion.
Its success has gained the attention of other HBCUs, who have expressed interest or moved forward with creating a similar center on their respective campuses.
"It shows a lot of other schools not only can you do it, but this how we've done it, this is why you should do it. And this is how it helps not only your students, but your faculty, staff, and surrounding community," Williams said.
The new student center is set to open during spring semester 2022, with the LGBTA Resource Center occupying a space visible from both on and off-campus.
"I am extremely excited. The center is going to be so much more open, so much more visible. It's going to be a lot more space for programming. There's going to be a grand hall where we can have our gala, where we can have our programs. So there's going to be a lot more space so we can welcome a lot more students," said Martin.