Kennesaw State scholarship celebrates professor and late husband’s love of travel

KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 19, 2023

Teresa Raczek and Brian LaRaia
Teresa Raczek and her late husband Brian LaRaia
Kennesaw State University professor Teresa Raczek and her husband Brian LaRaia loved to travel - an activity that inspired many of the gourmet dinners LaRaia cooked for the couple during their 25 years together.

Raczek, who built her archaeology career during travels to India and France, said LaRaia began traveling when he taught English in Japan after graduating from college. The couple met and began dating in New York City in 1996, married in 2004 and in the years following, visited seven countries together and spent two summers pet sitting in France.

“Brian always believed in the power of travel to transform lives. Both of us felt like travel transformed our lives,” said Raczek, a professor of anthropology. “And it transformed his cooking. Everywhere we went, he learned the country’s techniques. He could cook anything, and it was 5-star restaurant quality.”

When LaRaia passed away in April of 2021, Raczek said she and his family were immediately interested in finding ways to honor his memory by helping others explore the world and consider new perspectives. Together, they gifted $50,000 to endow the Brian Olcott LaRaia Traveling Scholarship in the Radow College of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2022, and recently, Raczek added a more than $200,000 planned gift to that endowment.

Brian LaRaia
Brian LaRaia
“This is meant as a need-based scholarship. Brian was a very generous person, and I know he would have wanted to support students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to study abroad,” Raczek said, noting the goal is for the endowment to send one student per year abroad.

Raczek said though she enthusiastically helped establish the scholarship in her husband’s name, it was his family who wanted to ensure their gift would help students learn the way LaRaia felt only travel could.

“He just thought it was important that every young person had the opportunity to travel,” Raczek said.

Radow College Dean Catherine Kaukinen said she is proud of her faculty’s support of its students through scholarships like this one, which she said goes “beyond mere generosity.”

“It represents an investment in promoting global citizens who will shape a brighter future for all,” Kaukinen said. “As educators, it is our privilege and duty to provide students with the tools for learning and the opportunity to foster global awareness, a journey made possible through scholarships and transformative global experiences.”

– By Thomas Hartwell

Photos submitted

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit