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Student Spotlight: Krista McKinney


Krista McKinney
Krista McKinney

Preparing for the sequel

Krista McKinney has dreamed of being a feature film director since she was 11 or 12 years old. At 15, she started making short films with her friends—and has never stopped.

"It was just sort of an epiphany one day going to the movies and realizing, 'I want to be a film director' " she said. "So I just started making my own short films with my friends since I was about 15 and never really stopped since."

She thought she'd have to attend a film program away from her home in Derrider, La., but a family member suggested Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport. She could get the degrees she needed—in studio art and a communications track focusing on film, TV and video—and still be close to home.

McKinney will receive those degrees in May, but the 21-year-old said she will also take away a deeper faith and a broadened religious worldview.

When she arrived at Centenary, McKinney said she looked for ways to connect and make friends, and, as a lifelong Baptist, she also wanted to find activities that would help her grow spiritually.

It wasn't hard. Orientation sessions provided fliers on everything, from the women's Bible study group and United Methodist Student Movement to the Baptist Collegiate Ministry.

"When I came in," McKinney said, "I kind of assumed that Baptists and Methodists were basically the same thing, and I learned that no, they're really not. Everybody relates to God differently, everybody views God differently, and that's OK. That's a welcome thing here at Centenary."

What's shaped her most is the school's Christian Leadership Center, where activities challenge students "to explore hard questions of faith," she said. It's a "very mixed group" that helps students "figure out what exactly you're called to do."

Centenary students can join clubs, but they are required to participate in a service learning activity to graduate.

McKinney met her requirement through a film documentary class. Teams of students were paired with veterans through the local Veteran' Affairs and produced biographical documentaries.

McKinney's group worked with a veteran of the Vietnam and Korean conflicts.

"He had a purple heart. He'd been shot many times," she said. "I just kept thinking that I would never know this man was a war hero unless I actually sat down and talked to him like I just did."

In October 2012 she entered a video contest coordinated by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry that asked students to share why their United Methodist-affiliated school matters.

McKinney's one-minute video made it into the top 10. It featured students holding signs that read connecting, serving, worshipping and continuing, sharing why their experience at Centenary was important.

It also showed, she said, that Centenary students continue making a difference in the world, doing work they felt called to during their time at school.

Tita Parham