A Greenup County native who teaches at a community college near the nation’s capital has been selected as a Fulbright scholar, and will spend 10 months teaching in Russia.

Phillip Imel, an associate professor of accounting and finance at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va., will teach those subjects at Urals State University of Economics at Yekaterinburg, which is a city of 1.4 million in central Russia.

Imel has been to Russia five times already and speaks the language. “I love the country. Yekaterinburg is near Siberia, about a thousand miles east of Moscow, and is so very different. We will be out among the real true Russians,” he said.

The prestigious Fulbright program sends U.S. students, academics and professionals abroad to foster international relationships. Imel had already been invited by the Russian university to share his teaching methods and that helped him secure the grant.

The goal he shares with the university is to introduce methods and techniques to their finance and accounting curricula that will enable students to transfer their academic credentials outside their own country.

Imel said he meets students at his community college who came to the United States as respected professionals and, in effect, have to take what amounts to remedial courses to qualify for positions in this country. “It is important because more and more the world is becoming a smaller place,” he said.

The world also is becoming a more expensive place and that includes education, he said. “Any way we can make education more efficient on this side or that side, it’s a plus for all of us.”

Imel, 53, comes from rural Greenup County, where he grew up “dirt poor,” in his own words. Until he was about 12, the houses he and his family lived in didn’t have running water. “Like a lot of people, we were poor but we didn’t know it,” he said.

His mother, Wanda Imel, scrimped to raise enough money to send him to school in Greenup. He attended Ashland Community College and Morehead State University, then did doctoral work at the University of Virginia.

“Reading and education were central to what my mother wanted for us,” he said.

His mother continues to work at the greenhouse owned by Imel’s brother Kenny.

Accompanying Imel to Russia will be his wife, Pat, daughter Kinsey, who will be a college sophomore, and son Raymond, who will be a high school senior.

While he is there he hopes to arrange distance learning sessions with students in the Greenup County School District. He has already had exploratory talks with principals at Greenup County High School and Argillite Elementary School.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

Recommended for you