Professors are People Too: Ethan Ross

Professor Ethan Ross teaches English at Regent University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Spring Arbor University in Michigan and went on to gain his Masters in Fine Arts Creative Writing from Old Dominion University. A few months after graduation, Professor Ross accepted a position at Regent University to instruct students in both English and English fiction courses.

What made you decide to pursue a career in English?

Though he originally wanted to be an inventor, Professor Ross chose to pursue writing when he was still in high school.

“Well, originally I thought my creative interests were more in line with being an inventor of some sort. As a child, I would play with all kinds of stuff, so it was almost more of a STEM interest. But it became clear by the time I was in high school that I really liked literature and writing and that was the route I wanted to pursue.”

Professor Ross discussed how writing is his passion and how teaching has provided him with the opportunity to “be involved in a literary space and use [creative] skills towards something more like a traditional job.”

Who is your favorite author?

“Probably my all-time favorite author is a woman named Marilynne Robinson, a Protestant author who is mainly a writer of fiction. She’s pretty unique. There’s not that many literary Christian authors out there. There’s definitely a subgenre of Christian fiction from romance novels to thrillers, but there’s not really that much that belongs in the literary category. And even then, a lot of that [work] tends to be of the Catholic tradition. So, she’s special to me as one of a few authors that fit into that [genre and worldview].”

Professor Ross shared that he discovered Robinson’s books as a freshman in college when his mother first read her book, Gilead

“Since then, I’ve read her other works, and I got to see her at one point at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, where I’m from. They have a festival of faith and writing and she was their keynote speaker one year.”

Do you have a favorite childhood memory? 

After a few moments of consideration, Professor Ross decided that some of his favorite memories from childhood are the vacations his family took around the United States. He fondly remembers their various travels including scenic hikes or historical sights. 

“One particular vacation, my mom was [at the time] very interested in the Little House of the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, so we did this two-week vacation where we visited as many of the different Laura Ingalls Wilder sights as possible. There’s this whole collection of little museums where they converted the various homes that the family lived in into sights that people can go and see. There was a lot of driving on that trip because we went all over the place.”

What advice would you give to college students today?

Professor Ross advises students to make sure they take advantage of their downtime at college to truly focus on and study their craft. 

“There are so many students who I think are in a position where they want to be a student and get their degree, but they have other things going on that they’re allowing to become their [main] focus. It’s almost like you have a lot of people who seem to have multiple full-time engagements.”

“You really want to think about this [time] as a period to focus on what you’re trying to do, and become an expert in that trade. I think it’s important to have that perspective because you won’t have any other time in your life where you have this freedom [to study]. The nice thing about being a college student, especially of a more traditional age, is that you have the ability to focus on something whereas for the rest of your life it will be a mixture of balancing your craft with all the other complications of life.”

What is your favorite book of the Bible?

“As an adult, I have always enjoyed and found solace in the Psalms. It was interesting because as a child, I really didn’t understand the Psalms at all; I just didn’t get it. They seemed repetitive to me, like the same thing said over and over again.”

Professor Ross remarked that it was neat to reread the Psalms with an adult understanding and see them as a form of poetry. 

“There have been many times where, if I experience the peace that comes from reading Scripture, it comes from reading the Psalms.”

If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?

Professor Ross had a very unique answer to this question. He said that his superpower would enable him to know if a person’s life would be changed by reading a certain document, like a book, manuscript, or screenplay. 

Professor Ross laughed while disagreeing with the idea that this would be a selfless superpower. 

“In my mind, it was actually selfish because I was thinking, in theory, this could be a service that I could sell in addition to doing it for free for people in need. I’ve [recently] been mulling around with [the idea of] writing a short story based loosely off this premise, like a magic realism story.”

The Daily Runner extends a huge thank you to Professor Ross for taking the time to speak with us and investing in the education of students at Regent.

Jordan Lance

Jordan Lance

Jordan Lance is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Runner.