In the more than 11 years that Bettina Shuford has been at UNC, she has wanted to make students feel like they belong.
Shuford currently serves as the associate vice chancellor for student engagement at the University, and her work centers on diversity, equity and inclusion, multicultural affairs and retention of students of color.
She has also had responsibilities in Campus Health, student counseling, disability services, multicultural initiatives, career services and student activities in her role, according to UNC Student Affairs.
This spring, Shuford was recognized by "Diverse: Issues In Higher Education" for their Women's History Month issue.
“I believe that one day (the University is) going to be able to make some inroads around diversity, equity and inclusion,” Shuford said. “Not just for around race and ethnicity, but for all underrepresented groups, and just trying to make the campus a better place for students where all students feel like they belong, and have a place."
Shuford said she is happy to contribute to student belonging in any way she can.
'A gentle fierceness'
Darian Abernathy, a graduate student studying student affairs in higher education at Colorado State University, said in a written statement that she connected with Shuford in fall 2020 during her senior year at UNC.
Abernathy was beginning her term at the time as the chairperson of the Carolina Union Board of Directors.
She said that seeing Shuford as a Black woman in leadership within her field was impactful.
"She embodied for me, hope that I can do anything and get to a place where I can make change," Abernathy said. "In our time together, she helped me learn more about the future of the field and what her experience has been like."
Abernathy said that Shuford has always made herself an available resource to her development as a student-leader and student affairs professional. She has left conversations with Shuford feeling empowered and seen.
Abernathy said she is glad that she and Shuford are in each other’s corners.
"Dr. Shuford has a gentle fierceness to her," Abernathy said. "She believes in the UNC community and its ability to reckon with the past and how to create a better future. As a former student-leader on campus, she has always been kind and supportive of me."
Shuford loves working at the University, she said, because of the collegiality that the faculty has when working toward common goals — even while serving across various disciplines and departments.
Shuford has been involved in several UNC campus organizations, including Delta Sigma Theta, a historically Black sorority. When she was in college, Shuford said she was a member of the sorority and she now serves as adviser for the UNC chapter.
Linda Brown Douglas, senior director of volunteer engagement for Delta Sigma Theta, said that Shuford helps the sorority whenever and however she can and is very involved in its success.
“She's very, very supportive of (members of the sorority),” Douglas said. "Just this year, when we had their anniversary, or the national anniversary on January 13, our girls were out in the Pit and she came out there and hung out with us for a while with some of the other ladies, so we really appreciated that.”
'I love what I do'
In an interview with The Daily Tar Heel, Shuford also spoke about her past work for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, an educational program that promotes equity and inclusion in higher education. She has also served as a member of the coordinating faculty for the NASPA Preconference Session — the African American Women’s Summit.
Additionally, Shuford served on the board for the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service in Orange County. The agency runs two shelters for those experiencing homelessness in Chapel Hill and provides hot meals and food pantries for patrons of the shelters.
“I consider it to be a fun activity because it's giving back to the community in which you live," Shuford said. "And it's helping others who have had difficulties and challenges in life get back on their feet and be successful."
Candice Powell, Carolina Covenant Scholars Program director, said that Shuford has always been a voice of wisdom and influence in the campus community.
“I can't think of anything great that we've done at Carolina for students where she hasn't been in the room and part of those conversations, and I'm grateful for her presence there,” Powell said.
Powell said that she and Shuford have known each other for a long time, and she appreciates everything Shuford has taught her over the years.
“It is really part of her spirit of service and her spirit of solidarity and sisterhood, and it makes a huge difference,” Powell said.
Shuford said that she has a passion for giving back to her community and working in higher education.
“I love what I do,” she said. “I love working with students and colleagues. You know, it's always been sort of what I felt like is a calling."
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