From the outskirts of Lake Charles, Louisiana, McNeese State University guides, transforms and inspires 7,500 students from all cultures and walks of life. Ranked one of the top public universities by US News and World Report, McNeese is characterised by innovative teaching methods, unparalleled service-learning opportunities, diversity, and of course, that quintessential Southern vibe.
Nestled just off the I-10 towards the downtown bustle, Lake Charles is a recognized hub of all things arts and culture. Located in a region that hosts more than 75 annual festival events – from Mardi Gras, to the Louisiana Pirate Festival, the Black Heritage Festival, Cajun-French Music and Food Festival, and everything in between – students are drawn by the region’s buzzing atmosphere and colorful community year after year.
But eyes aren’t the only senses that glow among the lights of the Lake Louisiana jamboree; your taste buds will be positively tingling at the sights and smells of the region’s culinary scenes.
“Jambalaya, gumbo, spicy crawfish, boudin and bread pudding, these are just a few things you can sample of Southwest Louisiana’s famous Cajun French and Creole cuisine,” writes the Lake Charles travel board.
“Cajuns in Southwest Louisiana like to tap their toes to good music while dining, and several restaurants in the Southwest Louisiana area feature live Cajun tunes almost every night of the week,” it adds. “Don’t miss out on delicious seafood and fine dining seasoned to perfection. There are also many culinary events throughout the year that feature savory local dishes.”
But far beyond its world-renowned Southern hospitality, Lake Charles is also in the midst of a period of unprecedented growth, driven by investments worth billions of dollars. A host of influential, multi-national corporations are flocking to the region, attracted by its unrivalled business prospects and unique pool of graduate talent.
Business Report states that the US$73 billion in announced industrial projects for Southwest Louisiana far exceeds the capital investments in cities like Dallas, Atlanta and Baton rouge, highlighting Lake Charles and surrounding Southwest Louisiana as a beacon of opportunity for business leaders and aspiring minds alike.
This thriving growth has cleared the path for a wealth of innovation, encouraging various start-ups like restaurant on-demand platform WAITR. This visionary service was partly founded by a McNeese graduate from Colombia, and is currently comfortably riding the waves of regional expansion. These start-ups are helped with the SEED Center incubator on the McNeese campus – an exclusive facility that supports the development of new and existing business ventures to create quality jobs for Southwest Louisiana and the state as a whole.
McNeese itself also greatly benefits from its Southern location, standing as a sanctioned center for specialized research. The institution excels in a vast array of research disciplines, but it particularly shines in the fields of engineering, chemical and environmental science – with Dr. Mark Merchant’s research on alligators bearing particular weight in this subject.
Civil engineering projects related to water issues in the wetlands and local industry also present a host of opportunities for students to pursue research or internship positions, while the continuing success of the university’s engineering students in national competitions – like the Ocean Exploration Trust’s (OET) Engineering Design Challenge, the title of which has previous been won by the institution’s brilliant design team – is a testament to the opportunities McNeese students have both in and outside of the classroom setting.
Also deemed an agricultural focal point of the US, it’s no surprise that the university’s comprehensive agriculture programs are highly sought-after. Ranking among the state’s most profitable industries, earning a top three position alongside the petrochemical and tourism sectors, Louisiana agriculture supports around 30,000 farms and more than eight million acres of dedicated farmland. This opens up a veritable cornucopia of real-world practice options for McNeese agriculture students, with three working farms and a meat processing plant where students dive in head-first and hands-on.
As with most regions with a unique culture and history, folklore and creative arts are prolific in Lake Charles and throughout Louisiana. For this reason, the arts and creativity have become integral to daily life in the Southwest, enlivening the community through various shows, exhibitions and performances that show the region at its best. The Creative Writing program at McNeese also embodies this artistic spirit, and with this is a nationally-ranked program producing Adam Johnson, an acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winner, back in 2013.
“Here at McNeese State University the phrase “Excellence with a Personal Touch” is more than a slogan,” says Dr. Daryl Burckel, President of McNeese State University. “It is the heart and soul of our campus culture,” he concludes. “It is a culture we want you to experience as soon as you encounter one of our enthusiastic students, proud alumni, committed faculty, or dedicated staff.”
If you’re seeking an international study experience that’s truly unforgettable, it’s time to commit to McNeese State University and experience that renowned Southern hospitality with a unique, personal touch.
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