Four in the Family

Gretchen Larsen, Chris Larsen, Jacob G. Larsen, and Erik Larsen.
October 18, 2017

The Larsens make up four of the 134-person population of Meadowlands, Minn. Every weekday, they pile into the car and start their 43-mile commute from Meadowlands, Minn. to UMD for another day of classes. That's because, this fall, all four family members attend UMD. 

Jacob G. Larsen, the youngest son, and his father, Erik, will be the only two making this drive next year. Chris, the eldest son, will graduate in fall 2017 with an organizational management degree, and his mother, Gretchen, will graduate in the spring of 2018.

“I wanted to go to Concordia originally, because a cute-sounding girl over the telephone called me,” Jacob says. He didn't want to join Chris at UMD. “I’d already lived with him for 18 years. I wanted that to stop.”

It didn’t stop. Jacob headed to study biology in Duluth a year after Chris. The Larsen boys even chose to be roommates at UMD, against their parent’s advisement. It was a decision that neither regretted. “Support, tuition, family being nearby ... it just made sense,” Jacob says.

A Family Affair

The parents followed the sons. Gretchen majors in human resource management, and Erik pursues a criminology degree and is enrolled in the museum studies certificate program.

Erik and Gretchen met while on active duty in the Air Force,  and they traveled for 26 years, all over the world. Minnesota called, and they eventually returned to Erik’s hometown of Meadowlands.

“The intention was always to settle down,” Erik says. “At the time, we didn’t know we’d be going back to school.”

While Gretchen had experienced life as a college student, Erik hadn’t been in school since he was 18. That led to an interesting family dynamic. As Jacob says, "Mom took on the role of a college-to-Air-Force translator.” Read more.