Friends, Professors, Ambassadors for Christ
Though they are not your typical college “buddies,” Cristian Mihut ’97, Ph.D., and Robby Prenkert ’94, D.Litt, have experienced quite a bit together during their time at Bethel. Mihut, assistant professor of philosophy, now shares a different type of relationship with Prenkert, associate professor of English, than he did when they originally met.
“Cristian lived in the hall where I was an RD back in 1995,” explains Prenkert. “We chatted about music and literature and Christian faith and big ideas.”
After nearly two decades, the two still enjoy one another’s company, whether they are discussing novels on Prenkert’s deck or telling stories during their combined family vacations to a cabin in Michigan. However, during school hours, they become enthusiastic about teaching alongside one another as co-block mentors, one of Prenkert’s favorite things about working at Bethel.
Each fall semester, the duo helps new students make a smooth transition from high school to college as a part of the first year experience (FYE) block program, which consists of two general education classes — in this case, exploring the Christian faith and written communication.
“I love reading Scripture and good literature in community with Robby and the students who join us every fall,” exudes Mihut. “When I see the glow of insight on their faces, when they make me reconsider something I hold as obvious, that is a precious thing. And then there are the many hours Robby and I spent together in December pouring over our students’ portfolios, printed witnesses to the reality of their cognitive, emotive and spiritual transformation.”
But the pair has more in common than the obvious passion to see students thrive intellectually and spiritually. They are also both members of MERT, the multi-ethnic resource team on campus.
The committee focuses on “helping make Bethel a welcoming community, where traditionally under-represented minorities have the opportunity to flourish, as well as cultivating intercultural competence,” describes Prenkert.
MERT provides both individuals with the opportunity to delve deeper into their personal callings, not just as professors, but as Christ-followers.
“If there is a single feat God accomplishes through the church of Christ, it is to overcome all hostility — ethnic, religious, political, social and gendered,” declares Mihut. “I belong to the church of Christ. That is enough to make me care about ethnic and racial reconciliation.”