Rebekah Mininger, a faculty member in the department of design and photography professor at BJU, is thankful for her experience at BJU and the journey that led her to this point.
Mininger teaches four to five photography classes each semester and manages the photography equipment checkout system. In addition to helping students complete course requirements, Mininger appreciates the opportunity to invest in them. “I want [my students] to be the best photographers out there, but I also want them to know how much they are loved when they are in my classroom,” Mininger said. Especially after being the recipient of her professors’ investment in her when she was a student at BJU, Mininger said she has the desire to give back to her students.
On the side, Mininger submits fine arts photography to contests and exhibitions. One of her images, a photograph of her daughter Evelyn, will be displayed in Rome, Italy, next month. Mininger said she was also recently accepted as a contributor for Archangel Images, a boutique stock agency specializing in book covers. She submits photos monthly and hopes to expand her gallery to 3,000 images. Mininger said this outlet forces her to shoot pictures regularly and stay fresh for what she teaches in the classroom.
Mininger grew up knowing about BJU since both of her parents attended the University. Prior to coming to BJU herself, she spent a few of her childhood years as a missionary kid in Japan and later moved to New Hampshire, where her dad pastored a church. When she came as a student in 1996, she decided to study cinema. Mininger believes her love for photos and images was partially inspired by her mother’s passing when she was 15 years old. “[I liked] the idea of making little time capsules with a photograph that will outlast all of us and preserve the moment forever,” she said.
During her undergraduate years, Mininger helped in the photography department shooting photos for the Vintage. This experience gave her a love for still photography. She was also a staff photographer on The Collegian and remembers using film to develop photos. She enjoyed her time photographing various events and getting to be more involved along that way.
Mininger continued at BJU to complete a master’s degree in cinema. Her main motivation behind this was to have more access to the photo department, not for further training in cinema. Mininger said as a staff member, she could use the larger cameras in the department and really enjoyed that. Following her degree completion, Mininger spent several years working various photography jobs in Greenville until the Lord opened the door for her to return to BJU. Her jobs included staff photographer for the Greenville Journal, photographer for a retail portrait company The Picture People and event shooter for a company called Tricycle Studios.
Mininger eventually reached out to BJU’s photography office and then became a full-time photography staff member in 2005. In this role, Mininger served as a photographer for BJU in addition to teaching a couple of classes. She said looking back, she can clearly see God’s hand in her job transition. “[God] gave me a lot of different crash courses in different genres and different types of photography because He knew someday, I would be teaching,” Mininger said. During this time, Mininger held a wide range of responsibilities, from shooting pictures for BJU Press to photographing weddings in War Memorial Chapel.
In 2011, Mininger began an MFA in photography so that BJU could offer photography as a major. During that time, she began to really enjoy fine arts photography, an area she had not had much experience in prior. In 2017, Mininger completed her MFA online from Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
This accomplishment carried her to the position she serves in today as full-time faculty member. Mininger’s students speak highly of her. Sophomore English major Camille Mattish, who is currently taking Photography I as a requirement for her photography minor, said she really likes how Mininger not only lectures, but also gives her students a variety of hands-on experience. “There are certain class periods where [Mininger] discusses . . . technical sides of the camera, and there are other class periods where she lets us practice what we have learned, which I really appreciate,” Mattish said.
Sophomore journalism and mass communication major Lindsay Shaleen enjoys Mininger’s classes as well. Shaleen especially appreciates how Mininger incorporates biblical truth into her classes. “She brings creation into everyday examples,” Shaleen said.
Mininger and her husband, John, have two daughters, Juliet and Evelyn, ages 12 and 8. They enjoy visiting Disney World on a regular basis. Mininger said she is excited to see how the Lord will continue to use her at BJU.
Current students and members of the BJU community can follow BJU’s Instagram photography account, @bjuphotography, for students’ work and behind-the-scenes of events and classes they are involved in.