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Professor Susan Irons’ English 304 “Advanced Business Communication” course has helped create a healthier campus. The class collaborated with Campus Health to bring vending machines to campus that offer self-care and health products. The machines offer items such as over-the-counter medications, lip balm, and band-aids to allow for easier and quick access to products when the Healthy Heels Shoppe and Student Pharmacy aren’t open or nearby.

The English 304 course took on the semester-long project to provide a student perspective to Campus Health’s plan for the vending machines. When undertaking the semester-long collaboration, Prof. Iron’s goals were: “1) to strengthen [students’] written and oral communication skills; 2) to gain competency in the conventions and strategies of business communication; and 3) to achieve the learning goals through a real-world project that gave them an opportunity to positively impact Carolina campus life.”

Ultimately, these goals were met and more. “[The class’] work on the project required wide-ranging research; facility with various genres of professional communication; interview strategies; and problem-solving skills. The consultation culminated in a formal written proposal to Campus Health and an oral presentation sharing their ideas with their client,” says Prof. Irons.

Now, students can access a Healthy Heels To Go vending machine at the Student Union—and soon the Rams Head Recreation Center—when they are in need of quick access to health products.

In the future, be on the lookout for more community work on campus through Advanced Business Communications courses. This spring, Prof. Irons’ English 304 students “are consulting with Dr. Leslie Montana in Counseling and Psychological Services about strategies to develop and promote the Nature Rx program she began at Carolina in Fall 2020…Their work will culminate in written proposals and oral presentations, and it will hopefully help shape the future of that new program on campus.”

Reflecting on these collaborations with her classes, Prof. Irons expresses her gratitude for groups who have worked with her students: “The ‘clients’ provide our students with the opportunities, and our students provide them with something extremely valuable: the student perspective and a wealth of good ideas. In the process, our students learn real-world, professional communication skills that are widely applicable.”


A vending machine containing health-related items such as cough drops and band-aids sits inside one of the doorways of the Student Union on January 25, 2021, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)
Photo of Susan Irons, taken by Sarah Boyd
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