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Winning communication

Michael MeredithTwo UNC Kenan-Flagler students were winners in the Association for Business Communication (ABC) student writing competition. Roshni Verma (BSBA ’18) won first place and Tyler Tonnesen (BSBA ’18) came in third. Their professor Michael Meredith, clinical associate professor of management and corporate communication, accepted the awards on their behalf at ABC’s 2017 conference in Ireland.

Meredith often uses the competition’s case scenario as a writing prompt for his Management and Corporate Communications class. As with any other assignment, every student receives a grade, but Meredith also picks the best two submissions and nominates them for the competition.

“The reason I like to assign this case is I believe in case and scenario learning for undergraduates because they typically don’t have extended work experience,” said Meredith. “It really brings the importance of critical thinking and business writing to life.”

His students have had a lot of success at the international competition in the past. Kristen Brews (BSBA ’13) came in first place in 2012, and Katherine Shaw placed second in 2015.

All of the students were in Meredith’s Management and Corporate Communications class. The class, commonly referred to as Busi 401, is a required class at UNC Kenan-Flagler. It focuses on effective and efficient communication primarily through written assignments and presentations. Students spend the semester writing emails, constructing memos, tailoring resumes, and practicing presentations.

The information covered in Busi 401 benefits students across all of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s areas of emphasis because it applies to all roles and industries. Whether a student ends up at Bank of America or goes to work at a nonprofit, they will use the skills they learned in the class.

Students also use the skills before they enter the workforce. Busi 401 helps them prepare for job applications by teaching them how to fine tune their resumes and write cover letters that add to an application. It’s important, concentrated, and hands-on information  many students would never receive without the communication class.

Additionally, Meredith conveys the importance and real world applicability of the Busi 401 material by assigning realistic writing scenarios and showing students examples of company’s poor writing techniques.

The ABC student writing competition is another chance for students to put all they learned over the semester to a real-world test. For the competition, a committee of business communication faculty and two business professionals blindly review the nominated student’s work. The judges evaluate the work based upon a number of factors including its strategic response to the scenario, understanding of the audience, support and writing execution. This rigorous judging process makes his students’ wins all that more impressive.

“This is the first time two students from the same institution have won in the same year;  to do that when it was a blind reviewed by both academics and industry professionals  really speaks to the quality of what these students accomplished,” said Meredith.

Their wins also speak to the importance of the Busi 401 class and Meredith’s teaching abilities.

A business communication class is not unique to UNC Kenan-Flagler. Most business schools offer some form of Busi 401 but very few can claim that their classes help students win international awards.

By Kelly McNeil (BSBA ’19)