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Faculty Highlights

Janette Larson

February 2016

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This month we are highlighting Janette Larson, one of our first-year instructors here at CSUSM. Janette was interviewed by Carrie Marrow. 

Besides the $10 million salary (just kidding!), Janette finds being a writing instructor meaningful and humbling work.  “Writing is important, no matter what you end up doing for a living.”  Why humbling?  “I learn from my students as much as they learn from me.  It’s a little bit like being a parent.”  Also, as someone who struggled with math in college, Janette believes that persevering through challenging college courses has long-term benefits.  “A successful life requires persistence.  That kind of sounds like a fortune cookie.  But, it’s true.”

Despite her love for teaching, Janette did not always imagine herself in front of a classroom of students.  In fact, she worked in the corporate world for many years, including one job as an International Media Liaison for Monster.com in New York.  Her experiences on the east coast were memorable, to say the least.  While living in the Big Apple, she lived with a roommate “who did not allow coffee in the apartment – I know!” She also had the pleasure of meeting fascinating creatures, “like a giant cockroach; it was huge!  It was bigger than my hand!”  Although the corporate life paid her well, Janette realized she wanted a job that was more meaningful.  The cockroach may have had an influence as well.

After the birth of her first daughter, she decided to take on another new challenge (“Ambitious” is her middle name), and earned an M.A. at CSUSM.  Looking back, Janette says that getting a graduate degree was quite the shift.  “Writing in the corporate world is very different,” she explains, but she feels that her previous work experience sharpened her skills in communicating and writing effectively: “All of it counts.  Every experience prepares you for the next step.”

As a writer, Janette relates to her students and those who are frustrated by the writing process.  One of the most difficult parts of the writing process for her is simply starting: “Sometimes I stare at a blank document on my computer for a really long time!”  She sympathizes with students and hopes they learn how even experienced writers have similar struggles.  “The writing process is different every time,” she explains, “and you hit road blocks along the way.”

As her current and past students know, Janette spends most of her time outside of work going on adventures with her husband and daughters, whether it is camping or going to Disneyland.  “My favorite ride has to be Space Mountain,” she says, without a pause.  Besides time with family and friends, there are three things she cannot live without: “Coffee, books, and my dogs.”  Crosby the mutt terrier and Skippy the Westie approve.