McNeese professor receives Fulbright Award

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - If you ask his students, Geography Professor Steven Rainey is all about helping them succeed.

"He can be there as a professor," said student Jeffery Winstead. "He can be there as a mentor, but he can be there as a friend also to help guide you along the way."

Now, Rainey has the opportunity to bring even more resources to students at McNeese State University.

"When I come back, I can use what I learned down there in my courses," said Rainey.

Rainey was recently selected for a Fulbright Award.

The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and is administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

It's a fellowship that will allow Rainey to teach and conduct research in Brazil for the 2014 spring semester.

"I know some of the younger students might not realize what it brings to the classroom, but traveling abroad and bringing back the information to the students is great," said Winstead.

While Rainey is in Brazil, his research will be on large dams in the area and exploring the soil near the Amazon River.

"If you can improve the soil in Brazil then that's going to help long-term production," said Rainey.

The Fulbright Scholars Program sends more than 800 faculty members and professionals abroad each year to lecture and research.

And with Rainey as a recipient of the award, it's influencing his students, too.

"Hearing him talk about his experiences with the Fulbright, it's quite inspiring," said Winstead.

While Rainey said he hopes to increase student projects after his trip, he also plans to go beyond McNeese. Rainey said he wants to connect people from the area of Brazil he's visiting to businesses in Lake Charles.

"I hope to share the information I learn with a broader community and maybe develop economic interactions," said Rainey.

Proving this isn't just an honor for one professor, but for McNeese, and potentially the entire lake area.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.