Jacob Largen – A Poet and Musician Thinking out Loud

How would I describe my time at MSU as an English and/or Film Studies major?

I have had an exclusively pleasurable experiencing studying both English (major) and Film Studies (minor). Each class that I took continually reaffirmed my interest and dedication to furthering my understanding of literature, authorship, and meaningful artistic engagement. More specifically, my experience at MSU, specifically in relation to the English and Film department, has been much more intimate than what I would have expected attending such a large university. I feel as though I have been able to build genuine relationships with professors and with the department as a whole.

Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?

In terms of overall experiences at MSU and, specifically with the department of English, I would be remiss not to mention my time with the Red Cedar Review. I have been a part of the organization since my Freshman year, serving for two years a volunteer reader and then progressing through the Poetry Editor and Assistant Managing Editor roles all the way to, currently, the Managing Editor of the journal. This has been an exceedingly beneficial and rewarding experience which has prepared me to pursue a professional career in publishing and editing.

What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?

Though it may sound cliché, I would advise prospective English/Film students to do everything they can to believe in what they are doing and cherish every moment that they have with the department. Never in my life have I felt as comfortable/at home as I have working with the department of English and Film. In my experience, I have been subjected to countless dismissive comments and conversations about the “marketability” of my degree, but the reality is that you have to do what you love, and where there’s a will there’s a way.

What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them? (capstone courses, honors thesis, independent studies, etc.)

Well, as a creative writing concentration, I have thoroughly enjoyed all of my advanced workshops, specifically ENG 429 (Advanced Poetics). I am currently enrolled in Professor Henry’s ENG 428 course (Advanced Fiction Writing) and it is an absolute privilege to be able to write stories and express myself in such a formal and validated setting. As someone who prioritizes art and artistic expression above most things, it is absolutely amazing to be able to create original pieces and have a place to share them with a set of receptive ears.

What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation?

I am currently seeking employment in some sort of publishing or editorial field. I have a ton of applications currently in and I’m just playing the waiting game of hearing back, but ideally I would like to get paid to utilize the countless skills that I have picked up during my time at MSU. More personally, I spend as much time as I can writing original music with my best friend and roommate of four years Noah Miller, and it is our collective dream to make a career out of our work. In the immediate future, my girlfriend and I are presumably moving to Atlanta, Georgia and I’m a healthy mixture of excited, hopeful, and terrified for whatever is next.

If you’re interested in doing so, please reflect a bit on the strange experience of being a graduating senior during COVID. What resources have been most useful to you in navigating this unprecedented situation?

I am definitely heart broken at the lack of engagement I’ve had with campus and in-person classes, a someone who lived in North Neighborhood for two years and was very distraught about moving off-campus (initially at least), I very much enjoy the senes of community and belonging that I felt every time I walked into Wells Hall. Though it has been objectively strange to graduate during a time such as the one we are living in, there is a sense of comfort and camaraderie that I feel with the rest of the world, as the “unknown” is something that all of us are continually facing. Though this may sound like a contributing factor to post-grad stress, I honestly think that all of humanity is a bit more tender right now, and I am interested in experiencing that outside of a university setting.