By Kendra Steppler
Stephanie Rhinehart, RPR, is an NCRA member from Portland, Ore. A freelance court reporter by trade, Stephanie was kind enough to grant an interview for this edition of the New Professional Profile, an ongoing series dedicated to highlighting the most recent additions to the court reporting and captioning career fields.
JCR | What is your current job title?
Stephanie Rinehart | Freelance stenographic court reporter.
JCR | NCRA member since when?
SR | I must have become a student member in 2020 or ‘21.
JCR | Where do you currently reside?
SR | Portland, Ore., with my partner and too many cats.
JCR | What college did you graduate from?
SR | I went through Champion Steno’s online program for captioning and court reporting. I also have an associate of science degree.
JCR | What was your theory?
SR | Champion!
JCR | Do you currently hold any certifications or aspire to hold them?
SR | Last year I achieved my RSR and RPR and became certified in Washington and Oregon. I’m hoping to go for the RMR and keep going to eventually go for realtime certifications.
JCR | What are some of your favorite briefs?
SR | I love building on what I’ve already learned and keeping a good system. In school I was taught to use the W shape on the right hand for a few things. For example, “northwest” would be TPH-FRBLG. I wanted to keep it consistent for “-east” so I decided the inverse of W was an E on its side (like an M), and now my “northeast” is N-FRPLG. That was really satisfying.
My other favorite is using STPH*EFR for “every single” and adding different right-hand endings for “thing,” “person,” “one,” etc.
JCR | Why did you choose to become a court reporter?
SR | I always loved learning different languages, writing systems, and codes. After trying out many different career paths in my early adult life, I realized how important it was for me to have variety, autonomy, and constant learning on the job. I never thought I could have all those things, make an excellent living, and make my inner child happy on top of that. That’s why I had no reservations about finishing once I started school.
JCR | What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started out?
SR | How, even after you finish school, you will still struggle with feeling behind or like you’re failing or forgetting to do something. Just like getting through school is a nonlinear path, getting started as a working reporter will have the same ups and downs, and you will have a whole new arena to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Learning the industry and developing relationships and professional skills will take a long time, but all you have to do is keep trying and have as much fun as you can.
JCR | What’s your “can’t live without” item in your steno bag?
SR | Snack-wise, I just found Shanti Balance bars. I’m picky with food bars because they never truly taste “good,” but the blueberry matcha flavor is genuinely delicious.
Tech-wise, I can’t live without a small cord organizer bag — one with lots of compartments and enough space so that every little cord or piece of equipment has its spot and is visible. Anything can happen during the first 30 minutes before a job starts. I’m easily distracted, so I’m really thrown off when I’m having to consciously think about where things are while also figuring out a new environment or chatting with new people.
JCR | What do you like to do when you’re not reporting?
SR | I like to boulder and top rope at our local climbing gym, roller blade, and occasionally shoot hoops and do hot yoga. My partner and I are also casual archers. I rediscovered my love for fiction after a long time away, and I’m trying to keep a story with me even when I don’t have much time.
JCR | What’s the coolest experience you have had working in the profession?
SR | Right before I started working, I took part in a mock deposition workshop at Cooley Law. I got to hear firm partners give junior associates feedback on their deposition skills with a mock expert witness. It was so interesting to hear their different strategies; how they work around difficult witnesses; and how they use the realtime feed, if they have one, to inform their decisions.
JCR | What is your next goal? What is your long-term goal?
SR | My goals are a bit at odds with each other, so my goal is to stay focused on one at a time. My primary goal is to stay sane while working, pace myself, make sure I have leisure time, and give myself enough time to practice for more certifications. My long-term goal is to be able to compete in the NCRA Speed and Realtime Contests because I love the adrenaline rush of testing. I’ve been an observer twice now at the NCRA Conference & Expo, and seeing the amount of talent and dedication in the room is always inspiring. It seems like a blast to compete with such a supportive group.
Kendra Steppler, RPR, CRR, is an official in Eugene, Ore. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.