Faces of LIFE- Stephanie Rainey
Director of Admissions Operations, Enrollment Department
“A Career Shift for the Better”
Stephanie Rainey is the Director of Admissions Operations in the Enrollment Department at Life University. A native of Cobb County, she was born and raised in Marietta, Georgia. In fact, Rainey was born at the Cobb County Hospital. She refers to her family as intimate since there are just three of them: her mother, her younger sister and herself. They have always referred to themselves as the Three Musketeers. They are extremely close and supportive of one another.
“I have a very strong mother who taught me you can be anything you want to be. So anytime that I said, ‘that’s too hard,’ she would say, ‘no, try harder,” explained Rainey.
Rainey attended Jacksonville State University in Alabama, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Social Work. During college, she worked in the emergency room of a local hospital where she took patients’ insurance information. Her time there formulated some life-changing experiences. It was the first time she had ever experienced death. She would be taking the insurance information of a patient who sometimes would say to her that they felt like they were dying, and she would find out later that some did indeed pass away.
Part of her responsibilities at the emergency room was to shadow the doctors whose job it was to let family members know of the passing of loved ones. They would be brought to a private room where Rainey would be waiting with tissues and icepacks for the families, in case anyone overheated or passed out.
This gave her a different perspective on life. She was in her 20s at the time and felt, like most youth, invincible. Hearing the families’ anguish changed the way she looked at others. Even if someone is rude, she wants to be understanding because she doesn’t know what they are going through at that particular moment. This experience in the emergency room influenced her to change her major from early childhood education to social work.
After graduating from college, Rainey began working in the medical field doing billing and coding and eventually became a supervisor at her office. Then, WellStar bought out the private practice where she worked, and Rainey saw this as a good opportunity to make a career change.
She applied and interviewed at several places, including Life U. Rainey was offered two jobs, including the position at Life U. At the time, she didn’t know if Life U was the best choice for her, but Rainey followed her intuition.
“I really didn’t know a lot about Life U when I came, but my instinct was saying ‘change direction.’ It was scary because that is not what my background is in, so I took a leap of faith and came over to Life U,” said Rainey.
Rainey learned about Life U once she began working here. She felt that in her previous field, she had gone as far as she could, and it was time to make a change. She also remembers how different the atmosphere at Life U was compared to her interview at another organization. In the end, even though she was offered more money elsewhere, her intuition told her that she needed to take the opportunity being offered to her at Life U.
“At Life U, everyone was hugging, everybody was welcoming. They honestly spoke to me as if I knew them, and it threw me off because I have never had that before. They were speaking with me as if I grew up with [them].”
Rainey began her Life U career in Student Accounts as the collection coordinator. Her main role was to make sure that people were up to date on their fees and tuition. Additionally, she had the difficult job of disenrollment if a student’s account was not up to date. It was not an easy role, but one where she could use her social work and emergency room training of understanding, but also upholding integrity and responsibility.
“At the time, I was the number one name associated with disenrollment,” she said.
Within her first 90 days, her colleagues strongly encouraged her to sign up for the Master of Positive Psychology degree at Life U. At first, Rainey said “No” because she had no desire to go back to school. After all, working full-time and studying for a master’s degree was a huge commitment and would take up all of her free time.
“Within 90 days, they convinced me. Why would I not take on this opportunity? ‘You’re a natural-born leader. It would benefit you in your future because the work is in Positive Psychology. How can you not use it?’ On my 90th day, school started.”
Rainey made a deal with herself and took what she thought would be the hardest class first, Research and Statistics. If she passed, she would continue on, but if she failed, she would quit school. She completed that class with an A, and in June of 2017, she graduated with a 4.0 GPA and her Master’s in Positive Psychology from Life U.
“When things fall into place like that, then how do you not go with it? […] This was a real commitment that I didn’t plan for. It was just an opportunity in front of me. Do you live your life and have fun, or do you take on the opportunities that may not present themselves in the future?”
Those few months in 2017 brought many opportunities to Rainey. She applied for and got the Assistant Director in Enrollment Services position in April, graduated in June and bought her first home in July. Rainey celebrated her seventh anniversary at Life U in October 2022.
This article was originally published in Your Extraordinary Life (YEL), Life University‘s Alumni and Friends Magazine, 2022- Volume 15. YEL started in 2009 as a twice-per-year publication before moving to three issues per year from 2010-2017. In 2018, University leadership made the decision to publish a larger, more elegant version of the magazine just once per year that our alumni and friends could be proud of. YEL features an in-depth look at all things Life University, from alumni and student human interest stories to recaps and previews of the University’s biggest events. If you are a proud Life University alumni, friend or supporter, this publication is one you can’t miss!
Read the latest issue and past issues at this link or pick up a print copy on campus.