NCRF accepting nominations for Frank Sarli Memorial and Student Intern scholarships

2017 Sarli and Intern recipients

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) is now accepting nominations for the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship and the Student Intern Scholarship. The deadline for both these scholarships is Dec. 10. Beginning this year, both scholarship opportunities are open to NCRA student members enrolled in any court reporting program, not just NCRA approved programs.

Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship

NCRF’s Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship of $2,000 has benefited court reporting students nearing graduation for 20 years. The award honors the late Frank Sarli, a court reporter who was committed to supporting students at the highest level of their education. Sarli, who was studying to become a professional pianist, turned to court reporting when he could no longer afford the tuition to music school. During his career, he opened Accurate Court Reporters in Orlando, Fla., Orange County’s first independent court reporting firm, and was a founding member of the Florida Shorthand Reporters Association. Sarli also served in numerous roles at the national level, including as a director for NCRA. He was the first Floridian to earn NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award.

“I chose to be a court reporter because I wanted a job that has a relatively flexible schedule to permit me to do volunteer work and dedicate time to being a minister,” said Jared Orozco, a student from Sheridan Technical College in Hollywood, Fla., and recipient of the 2017 Frank Sarli Scholarship.

“After I finish school, my ultimate goal would be to work in transcribing sermons to expedite their translation so it can be of benefit to people all over the world,” he added.

Court reporting students must be nominated by an instructor or advisor and meet a number of specific criteria to be eligible, including:

  • enrollment in a court reporting program
  • passing at least one of the court reporting program’s Q&A tests at a minimum of 200 words per minute
  • having a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale,
  • demonstrating the need for financial assistance
  • possessing the qualities exemplified by a professional court reporter, including attitude, demeanor, dress, and motivation

Submit a nomination for the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship.

Student Intern Scholarship

Each year, NCRF awards two $1,000 scholarships to students who have completed or are currently performing the required internship portion of their court reporting program. They must also meet other specific criteria, including:

  • enrollment in a court reporting program
  • current membership in NCRA
  • having a grade point average of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale

A generous annual donation from the Reis Family Foundation helps fund these scholarships.

“Court reporting has always been the one job that has stuck out in my mind as my ‘dream job.’ I was always discouraged from going into this career because people are very misinformed about the opportunities available for a court reporter,” said Summer Vaughan, a student from College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., one of two recipients of the 2017 Student Intern Scholarships. “Once I began my court reporting internship, I knew I was right where I had always wanted to be,” she added.

Submit a nomination for the Student Intern Scholarship.

NCRF’s scholarships and grant are supported by donations to the NCRF Angels Drive and other fundraisers. To learn more about these scholarships, and to find the nomination forms, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF.

Alfred State College court reporting program earns high marks

For students looking to enter into court reporting or any number of in-demand STEM-related fields, Alfred State College, Alfred, N.Y., is rated an excellent choice by several online ranking resources, according to an article posted Nov. 7 by the Wellsville Daily Reporter.

Read more.

NCRA member shares how teenage intern inspires court employees while chasing her dream

Television station KRQE, Albuquerque, N.M., aired a story on Sept. 17 that features NCRA member Diona Gibson, RPR, an official court reporter for the Bernalillo County District Court, sharing her experience with a summer intern who was born blind and plans to become a court reporter.

Read more.

CASE scholarship winner in the news

Ann Marie Gibson

Mycentraljersey.com reported on Sept. 13, that Califon, N.J., resident Ann Marie Gibson, a student at the College of Court Reporting (CCR) in Valparaiso, Ind., was awarded a $250 scholarship by NCRA’s Council on Approved Student Education (CASE) during its Convention & Expo held in August in New Orleans. The story was generated by a press release issued by NCRA on Gibson’s behalf.

Read more.

New Professional Reporter Grant awarded

Sidnee Baum

NCRF presented the 2018 New Professional Reporter Grant to Sindee Baum, from North Massapequa, N.Y.  Baum said that receiving the New Professional Grant means a lot to her and that she plans to use the funds toward paying off her school loan and to cover the expense of starting out with a professional machine and software.

NCRF awards the annual New Professional Reporter Grant to a reporter who is in his or her first year of work, has graduated within a year from an NCRA-approved court reporting program, and meets specific criteria, including a grade point average of 3.5 or above, a letter of recommendation, and current work in any of the career paths of judicial (official/freelance), CART, or captioning. The grant is in the amount of $2,000.

“For 21 years, I was a federal probation officer. I wrote the pre-sentence reports and sentencing recommendations for the judges and had to be present at sentencings. I was always fascinated by the court reporters and always made sure I stood near them to watch them work their magic on their machines,” Baum said.

“When I was getting close to thinking of retiring and what I wanted to do as a second career, the thought of becoming a court reporter popped in my mind one morning. I spoke to NCRA member Anthony Frisolone, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, one of the court reporters in my courthouse and a court reporter instructor, who thought the idea was an awesome fit for me. He even offered to be my mentor and helped me through the emotional roller coaster that court reporting school entailed. Well, I’m happy to share that I retired from my career as a federal probation officer as of September 1, 2017, and passed my last mentored exit speed tests that same week and graduated from school,” she added.

Baum, a graduate of the online program at College of Court Reporting (CCR) in Valparaiso, Ind., is the 14th recipient of NCRF’s New Professional Reporter Grant. She was recommended by Jessica Vivas, client services manager and reporter liaison for Magna Legal Services based in New York.

“If Magna could only choose one goal, it would be to support and serve our clients to the best of our ability. Sindee Baum embodies this philosophy and is respected by our clients. We consider Sindee to be an asset to our court reporting team, and we look forward to working with her well into the future,” Vivas said.

For court reporting students getting ready to finish their programs and start their professional careers, Baum offers the following advice: “Practice like your life depended on it. Getting those last speed tests passed takes the most work and dedication out of all the tests you will take in school. Also, while completing your internship hours, make sure you are asking lots of questions and gaining as much experience as you can in various settings so that you will be able to hit the ground running at graduation and become a working reporter.”

To learn more about NCRF’s scholarships and grants, visit NCRA.org/NCRF/Scholarships.

NCRF announces winner of the Robert H. Clark Scholarship

Sydney Lundberg

Sydney Lundberg, a student from Des Moines Area Community College in Des Moines, Iowa, was named recipient of the 2018 Robert H. Clark Scholarship. This $2,000 scholarship is named for the late Robert H. “Bob” Clark, a court reporter from Los Angeles, Calif., who was dedicated to preserving the history of the profession. Lundberg is the fourth recipient of this scholarship.

In 2015, Clark’s family made a generous donation to NCRF to honor him, and NCRF created the new Robert H. Clark Scholarship. Students are nominated by instructors or other officials at their schools. To be eligible, nominees must be NCRA members, must be enrolled in an NCRA-approved court reporting program, must have passed at least one of their program’s Q&A tests at 200 words per minute, and must possess a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, among other criteria.

“Receiving this scholarship means to me that I will be able to finish school and begin working as a reporter even sooner. I am currently in the last part of my program, and this support will allow me to purchase professional equipment that will give me the last boost I need to graduate,” said Lundberg.

Lundberg heard about court reporting as a career through a family member. “My aunt is a captioner, and I was inspired by how she was able to capture the spoken word, work from home, and be so successful. After I graduate, my plans include working for a freelance firm in Des Moines, Iowa. I also plan on continuing to learn things about the profession, building my dictionary, and continuing to work on speed,” Lundberg said.

To learn more about NCRF’s scholarships and grants, visit NCRA.org/NCRF/Scholarships.

Firm owners donate Convention swag

The NCRA Student/Teacher Committee is grateful to the many people who generously donated to the student swag bags at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La. Last February, the Committee sent out a call to the NCRA Firm Owners email list, asking firms to donate a little something extra (or “lagniappe” in New Orleans-speak) for the bags. Planet Depos sent in a great backpack, and the goodies kept pouring in to fill them up. Other Firm Owners donated pens, travel mugs, mouse pads, hand sanitizers, pens, sticky notes, keyboard brushes, pencil cases, candy, and more!

The Student/Teacher Committee would like to thank the following donors who contributed to this year’s student swag bags:

  • Alaris
  • Benchmark Reporting Agency
  • Doris. O. Wong & Associates, Inc.
  • Hanson Renaissance Reporting & Video
  • Jack W. Hunt & Associates
  • Kay Moody, MCRI, CPE
  • LNS Court Reporting & Legal Video
  • Memory Reporting, Inc.
  • O’Brien & Levine
  • OrangeLegal
  • Planet Depos
  • Rider & Associates, Inc.
  • Schmitt Reporting & Video, Inc.
  • Streski Reporting & Video Service
  • Summit City Reporting
  • U.S. Legal Support
  • West Coast Court Reporting & Video
  • Wood & Randall
  • YOM

You will never work again!

By Forrest Brown, FAPR, RDR (Ret.)

How would you like a job that you were in for 50 years and yet you never went to work? I began my court reporting career on Feb. 2, 1959, in the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit in Atlanta, Ga. Then in April 1961, I moved to the Atlanta Judicial Circuit and remained there until November 1968, deciding to become a freelance reporter instead of an official reporter. If we define work as a task one performs that is not enjoyable, then I can truthfully say that I never went to work.

Yes, I had a job. Sometimes it was hard because the subject matter was unfamiliar and the attorneys were volatile and interrupting each other at times, but it was always fun. Yes, the judge was a good-spirited and well-meaning person who was quite personable and a pleasant person to work with and always told a personal story to each set of attorneys who came before him. The “trying” part about hearing the story is that when you’re the court reporter in court and you are assigned to a particular judge, then you hear the story dozens of times before a new one takes its place.

Then, on the freelance reporting side of my years, it was always enjoyable to report a deposition and hear another story about a subject that was interesting and entertaining to the extent that, more than a job, it was somewhat socializing with your clients’ associates and their fellow attorneys. Most always the attorneys were friendly and responsive to the needs of the reporter, whether it was yours truly or someone else. There were always back-and-forth conversations: “How’d it go in court last week? Oh, too bad your company representative settled the case when you had it won.” “How’s your son doing with his broken arm? Oh, he wet the cast when he fell in the pool and his arm cast had to be redone.” Always try to be friendly and helpful: “I’m over by the coffee; may I pour a cup for you?”

The doctor whose deposition you are preparing to take is explaining to the attorneys in the case the intricacies of an intense situation in the operating room last Wednesday and the extremely complicated circumstances surrounding the procedure. Very interesting preamble to the deposition job, but not work for sure.

Why is the witness talking so fast, so low, and sometimes swallowing his words, turning his head at an angle that prohibits you from seeing his face and mouth so that you have trouble distinguishing what he’s saying? Somehow you live through it and when you sit down to begin to put this word puzzle together, it makes sense. It was challenging at the time, but it wasn’t work because it is now gratifying and you are convinced that you actually did a good job; and you’re doubly pleased when the jurat is returned with no errors noted.

I have taken the testimony of a financial expert who’s explaining in his deposition the definition of borrowing short, meaning borrowing funds on a long-term basis to pay short-term debt. An educational exercise for sure, but certainly, it’s not work.

As a beginning reporter, I would stress that you always arrive at every appointment or in court at least 15 minutes prior to the time of your appointment, that you are a person of humility and caring, that you’re always courteous, polite, and willing to accommodate any situation with which you’re faced.

I have reported depositions sitting in the back seat of an attorney’s automobile with a steno machine in my lap; also with a steno machine balanced on the hood of a car; and also sitting on the back porch of a farm house with a bad housefly problem. That one required writing steno and swatting flies at the same time. You can do this. It’s fun, it’s a job, and it’s never work. You’re gonna be a great reporter and you’re going to be very successful. Hold our head up high and face whatever situation because you are now a professional court reporter and your record will never forget!

Busy Mom – Stellar Student

Kyra Kustin

by Nicky Rodriquez

While a student at the College of Court Reporting (CCR) in Valparaiso, Ind., Kyra Kustin studied general education, medical terminology, legal terminology, machine shorthand, and court reporting technology courses. She developed a strong background in English and communications. Additionally, Kustin received numerous honors and high honors throughout her schooling.

Kustin had this to say about CCR: “First off, the program at CCR is amazing. I’m so confident going out working and knowing that I am totally prepared in every way. Second, making a meticulous schedule held me accountable for keeping up with the plan I had made for getting through school. Lastly, to be honest, I’m super competitive, and when I set goals, there’s not much that I will let get in my way.”

Kustin acknowledges that she completed school in such a short amount of time because of her support system. “I have three daughters. My oldest two are 8 and 6, and my youngest was born in June 2017, right in the middle of my time at CCR. She’s another reason I credit for my success. I found out I was pregnant a few months into school. I knew what was coming in the months ahead, so I really pushed myself as hard as I could to get my speed up as much as I could before she was born. I made it to 140/160 speeds in that first year. My husband was the best support I could have had. He never complained a single time about giving me whatever time or resources I needed to succeed. It was extremely difficult, and there was a lot of trading the girls back and forth, but without his support, I couldn’t have finished school, and definitely not in the time that I did.”

In addition to developing a strong academic background, Kustin learned CCR’s EV360 Realtime Theory to master the ability to write with virtually perfect accuracy on a stenographic machine at 225 words per minute. As a result of her education and skills, she is capable of working in a variety of fields, such as official reporting in state and federal courts, broadcast television captioning, educational reporting for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and freelance reporting for attorneys.

Before starting classes at the College of Court Reporting, Kustin worked as a medical transcriptionist. Unfortunately, that profession did not adapt to industry and technology changes, which resulted in less work and dwindling income. The scarcity of work, combined with her children getting older, opened the door for Kustin to change careers and go back to school. A family member familiar with court reporting suggested the profession. Although very different from transcription, it was similar enough to catch her eye. She was also intrigued by the variety of opportunities (freelance, official, captioning, CART) and availability of a flexible schedule.

This led Kustin to research schools. She diligently proceeded to educate herself to make the best decision for her future. “I spent a really long time researching schools, and never heard anything but overwhelming praise for CCR, which made it an easy decision and by far the best decision I made. The support from all of the teachers and staff, and the overwhelmingly comprehensive education you get at CCR was more than I could have asked for,” Kustin stated.

Kyra Kustin is a resident of Wading River, N.Y., and now works as a freelance court reporter in New York. She passed her final tests and received her A.A.S. from the College of Court Reporting (CCR) in Valparaiso, Ind., in less than 24 months.

Nicky Rodriquez is the director of admissions for the College of Court Reporting, based in Valparaiso, Ind. She can be reached at nicky.rodriquez@ccr.edu.

Interning is a window into the real world

Nicole Johnson

by Nicole Johnson

When I first began my internship journey, I was scared. I was stepping out of my cozy comfort zone of court reporting school and into the “real world” (school is real too!) of lawyers and judges. I was also very close to some dangerous folks who’ve committed serious offenses, as well as funny witnesses who put the jury at ease. As a more introverted person, being around strangers every day is a bit stressful in itself. Then I realized I’m not the official reporter yet. I’m only here to learn how a real reporter handles situations, study how a courtroom works outside of television, and practice talking to unfamiliar faces in an environment that I am slowly easing my way into. Most importantly, I’m here to gain experience past what school has taught me and to put what I’ve been studying for the past six years to good use.

The first day I interned was a calendar day, and it went by really fast. It’s a room full of people and a judge going over all of their cases; the defense attorneys usually said their names at breakneck speed sans spelling. Lucky for me, I had a reporter who would give me a list of names when I would sit in with her. Those days are the most intense but still not as difficult as trying to pass all my 200 wpm speed tests.

Here in court, the bailiffs were cordial, the attorneys respectful, and the judges more than happy to talk court reporting shop with you. Everyone always seems genuinely interested in what you’re doing with that “funny looking machine.”

On top of interning in a courthouse, I’ve also participated in a few mock trials given by University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. Those were honestly terrifying, and I didn’t know what I was walking into. In a mock trial, I was the reporter. Though I had a mentor who would occasionally come in the deposition room to see how things were going, this felt real. I had to produce a rough draft transcript, constantly interrupt an attorney who always spoke at 260+ words a minute unless he was addressing the jury, and had to keep track of all the different soon-to-be lawyers coming in and out of the room. It was a dizzying but great experience. The student lawyers were always happy to have a court reporter there. Once I was asked by an attorney for read back (thank goodness I had it), and she actually used what “Madame Court Reporter” said in her closing arguments (and won). It was gratifying to feel this job’s importance. It’s also satisfying to know that others rely on the words I’m taking down. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.

I gained a lot of confidence doing mock trials and sitting in with reporters, gaining their knowledge, and learning new briefs. The real world, I realized, isn’t as scary as it seemed. It was actually better than I imagined. While I’m not a perfect writer, here is the perfect place to make mistakes, to try again the next day, to overcome any mental roadblocks, and to ask all the questions you want. You’ll end up working with the same attorneys, clerks, judges, and so forth, and everything will slowly fall into place.

I’ve realized that court, especially a trial, feels easier than school. I mean, school definitely prepares you, but nothing beats being there. You get accustomed to the way certain people speak, and there are a lot more pauses than in speed class.

I’m almost finished with my hours, and I’m going to continue sitting in with reporters even afterwards; because it’s fun, because I know I can do it, and because I can see myself in the reporter’s chair. My internship has given me more fire and motivation, and it’s the last step that will help me reach my full potential towards becoming an official reporter.

Nicole Johnson is a high-speed student at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif.