More professors may be making their way to the dining halls thanks to Smart Meals, a Student Government (SG) program that extends students’ interactions with their professors beyond the classroom and office hours.
SG developed Smart Meals to allow students to ask a professor to share a free lunch with them in the Mahoney-Pearson or Hecht-Stanford dining halls. The initiative promotes building a closer connection between professors and students.
“College life isn’t all about how well you do in the classroom – it’s also about how you connect with your professors, who are great resources not only as teachers but also as mentors in life in general or for a specific career,” said Renee Perez, the SG senate public relations chair.
One major purpose of the Smart Meals program is to afford students the chance to discuss potential internships and research opportunities that their professors might be able to help them take part in.
“I would hope to see premed students talking about doing research with that professor,” said Brianna Hathaway, speaker of the Senate. “I know a lot of students have also talked with their professors about studying abroad. I want students to talk about internships that would best help them in their future careers,”
Junior Vinessa Burnett had lunch with Professor Tyler Harrison who teaches in the School of Communication. Burnett asked Harrison about available career opportunities in her major, communication studies.
“It helped me a lot to understand what exactly I’m majoring in, especially because my concentration is organizational communication and he [Harrison] teaches organizational communication,” she said. “It also gave me the opportunity to get to know my professor better and feel more comfortable with him.”
The Smart Meals program allows for students to talk to their professors in a more relaxed, personal environment where grades are not the main objective.
“It enables a more informal, personalized discussion that happens in a way that is still academic but more natural,” said English Professor Susan Leary, who participated in the program with one of her former students. “I think it’s great for the standard faculty-student interaction and for cultivating more of a learning environment.”
Due to the interest that students displayed towards the program, it will be returning in the future with more than the twenty five spots that were offered this semester.
If interested in participating, the program is available to the first 25 students who register. Find more information at tiny.cc/UMsmartmeals.
The fall semester program ends Dec. 17.