Lenoir Dining Hall and Chase Dining Hall are often the settings for numerous college memories, including eating with newfound friends and studying for hours between meal times to get more out of a swipe. But these locations can also be the site for a candid discussion over a meal with your favorite professor.
Meals with Heels, which began as a Capstone project, aims to facilitate conversations between students and faculty while building relationships and increasing student academic success.
“It puts them in a setting that is out of the classroom in a casual environment and it allows them to get to know each other as fellow humans,” said Stacey Parker, the assistant director of academic initiatives and leadership development for UNC Housing. “They're really just connecting as human beings.”
Aimee McHale, a clinical assistant professor in the Public Health Leadership Program, has participated in the program twice. Although she was so overwhelmed by Top of Lenoir during her first visit that she kept solely to the salad bar, McHale believes each meal gave her more insight into her students’ lives.
“I have kids of my own who have been college students in the past, and I would want that for them,” McHale said. “I would want their faculty to take an interest in them, so I recognize that all of my students are somebody's kids. It helps to have somebody to talk to about whatever and to talk to outside of the academic environment.”