Professors Are People, Too: Dr. Larson
One of the newest additions to the CAS faculty at Regent University is Dr. Jeremy Larson, an Assistant Professor of English on-campus. He got his doctorate at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and joined Regent’s staff in the fall semester of 2018. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and three young children. As my first interviewee with the Daily Runner, I was excited to see what profound advice he would have for students and what interesting tidbits he would share from his life. Honestly, I was not disappointed.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
Dr. Larson: I don’t have what I consider a life verse. [Though if I had to choose,] I think Psalm 110:1, that Christ is the One who is reigning until His enemies are made His footstool. He’s in charge. He’s not wringing His hands in heaven, like, “Oh no, things are getting so secular! Oh no!” He’s in total control. And even if we don’t understand what’s going on in the story right now, He’s a good author and He’s telling a great story.
How did you meet your wife?
Dr. Larson: She and I went to the same church and the same high school. We met, kind of more at church than at school, but people usually say “high-school sweethearts” not “church-youth-group sweethearts,” so… Man, our church youth group! There was a lot of intermarriage in that small church youth group. A lot of us are married now.
Tell me about your college experience.
Dr. Larson: So my parents moved to South Carolina to work at Bob Jones University Press. [I] went to Bob Jones University for four years, majored in Creative Writing, [and] got a Masters in English, also at Bob Jones. [My wife and I] got married and moved to Charleston. I always had in the back of my mind, if it works out one day, I’d like to get a doctorate. And it just worked out at the right time.
Maggie: Do you have any college stories?
Dr. Larson: Oh, boy. College stories… I’m sure I do. Okay, so here’s a moment. I’m not sure why this popped into my head, but here’s the thing. Bob Jones was a very conservative Christian school. So, I’m glad I was there, but sometimes, you know, we would… we would do some… naughty things. On my hall, in the dormitory, there was a hall leader who was kind of notoriously strict and rigid—which makes for a good hall leader! But we were going to get him on April Fools. Somehow people in our cluster of rooms acquired some plywood and clamps, and in the middle of the night, we all woke up and got the plywood and the clamps and walked down to the room where my hall leader was sleeping. He was in the middle bunk-bed—we had bunk-beds; they packed like four or five of us in a room—and we clamped the plywood over the opening of his middle bunk and trapped him in there. And then his roommates, who were in on it, left to sleep somewhere else for the night. We turned the light and a vacuum cleaner on and left. We were just trying to kind of, you know, keep things real.
Maggie (shocked): What did he do?
Dr. Larson: He woke up in the middle of it and banged really hard on it and then, I think, gave in and went back to sleep… or tried to. He was clamped in; someone had to let him out in the morning.
Maggie: Did he know it was you guys?
Dr. Larson: He probably figured it out, but I don’t remember ever getting in trouble for it. It was just a silly prank. He was not visibly mad. He was…annoyed. I was not the mastermind of that plan, but, um, I definitely participated. It was fun. That’s about as crazy as we Bob Jones people got.
Do you have any hobbies? Rumor has it you play the trumpet…
Dr. Larson: Oh boy. So, I did play the trumpet for many years. It’s not something I’m doing now. I started playing in fourth grade and took private lessons all the way through my senior year in college. So lots of trumpet. Then after that, I played in church for years. I stopped when I started grad school. It wasn’t all of a sudden. I would play sometimes with the hymns, and then it kind of dropped away until Christmas and Easter and then eventually it was… But we also had two children when I was in grad school, and I was being a dad… So for hobbies, I have no hobbies. I have, uh, make-sure-my-kids-survive hobbies. It’s unfortunate; some people feel they lose part of themselves when they have kids because they can’t pursue their hobbies as much. And I do miss some of those things, but kids are just so fulfilling in other ways that it’s fine. I love being a Dad.
Maggie: You have 3 girls?
Dr. Larson: Yes! Kate, Sophie, and Livy. So, Katherine, Sophia, and Olivia.
Maggie: Are they friends?
Dr. Larson: Uh, they can play well together. They can fight well together. So, yeah, they’re just typical sisters.
If you had a second life, what job would you want to have?
Dr. Larson: I do think—I hope this doesn’t sound too snobby or intellectual—but I’m really attracted to people who like the classics and reading the classics in their original languages. If I could do it over again, I might want to be a classics professor. Teaching Plato in Greek to college students, that would be cool. I would love to be a classicist, but I don’t think I’m smart enough right now. Or that ship is sailed. Trying to learn Greek and Latin at this point in my life would be very difficult.
What advice would you give to the Regent student body?
Dr. Larson: As a Christian university, Regent has a lot of opportunities for students to attend events that they’re not required to go to but that they would benefit a lot from. So I would say pay attention to your emails. It’s easy to delete them and ignore them, but this kind of opportunity is not available for everyone. If you’re a Regent student, you are alerted when interesting events are going on on-campus: if an interesting speaker is coming to town, or even faculty members, who are giving presentations. The C.S. Lewis Society has interesting talks. There’s Ratio Christi, [a group focused on Christian apologetics]. Try to be involved in those kinds of things.
I don’t know if this counts, but this was very important for me growing up, and it’s not going to sound like spiritual advice but just practical advice. Your body will lie to you about what it can and can’t do. It will tell you, “I’m too tired.” And if you push through, you will be glad that you didn’t procrastinate and you will recognize that your body lies to you. Telling yourself, “I know I feel like I can’t stay awake right now,” but it actually is possible to resist those feelings of sleepiness and persevere in the work you have to do. I’m not saying don’t get sleep—like, be healthy! But your body will tell you that you’re more tired than you really are ,and I think that was a useful recognition for me to have. It’s easy to think, “Oh no, I need my sleep. I won’t be any good in the morning if I don’t get my nine hours of sleep.” Like, you’ll be okay if you get seven for this night. Or if for this night you need to get five hours of sleep. Like, you’ll be okay, and usually you’re going to be glad that you persevered and you didn’t let your body lie to you. That’s practical advice.
It was a great pleasure for me to meet with Dr. Larson and hear about his life. What a grand addition to the CAS staff! I wish him many wonderful years at Regent University!
Maggie Nelson is a staff writer for the Daily Runner.