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Dream. Believe. Inspire.

Tammy SmithThe time has come for my last president’s message – talk about time flying by. What will I remember the most about this year? The convention in Philadelphia? The work the Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force has begun? The increase in student enrollment? The revamping of systems and strategies at headquarters? The excitement generated by National Court Reporting and Captioning Week? Those are all wonderful things, but they probably won’t be what stays in my memory the longest. I’ll tell you what will stay in a moment.

As most of you know, my life has undergone dramatic changes in the past year and a half. My first husband, Bear, passed away in January 2012; I sold our home and many of our belongings and purchased a new home closer to where I’ve worked for 23 years. I left the town where I lived for more than 30 years.

Last August, I met Reggie Keenan. We both were just looking for a special friend with whom we could share dinner and companionship. It quickly became apparent that there was much more to our relationship than that, and we were married on April 6 of this year. We are now the proud owners of a detailing business and two Huskies, Jazz and Tazz. Between NCRA duties, being an official reporter, church, our home, business, families, and dogs, I barely have time to get everything done — let alone sleep. But my life is complete in ways I never dreamed would be possible again, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

There have been a lot of challenges in our NCRA family over the years, some good, some not so good: the voicewriting amendments, the implementation of Direct Member Voting, the lack of prospective students that has troubled our schools, the addition of technology-based certificates, such as the Realtime Systems Administrator program for our many savvy members, the economic downturn that hit so many industries including our own, and the re-establishment of NCRA as a steno-only organization through Writing our Future, just to name a few.

We’ve disagreed, debated, laughed, cried, and some have walked away or kissed and made up. But through it all, we’ve all had the same Dream: to see the court reporting profession prosper. We’ve all Believed in that dream. We’ve Inspired each other. And, as I’ve been involved with our strategic planning process over the past year, I look forward to seeing what new things NCRA will tackle through our new strategic plan, Vision 2018. It will take hard work on all of our parts, but we’ve proven that we can work together to accomplish our many goals. Our association is re-energizing itself as evidenced by the positive comments we’ve received.

My NCRA Board service started in 2004, and I know many of you have seen the changes in me physically, professionally, and personally. If you’ve learned nothing else from watching my experiences, remember this: Change is inevitable and trying to keep it from happening is like trying to grab the wind. Keep your minds and your hearts open to new attitudes, new experiences, and new challenges. You might think you can’t do this or that. Well, sometimes the Man Upstairs will decide to test you and all you can do is keep praying and keep moving forward.

It’s my hope that in some small way I’ve helped to make NCRA a little bit better, and if so, I didn’t do it by myself. It couldn’t have happened without all of us sharing the journey. The journey is what I’ve learned to appreciate; that journey seems to be easier for some and more difficult for others, but we all have our own journey we have to travel.

So, my NCRA family, that’s what I’ll remember: the journey. The journey to becoming NCRA President wasn’t always easy. The rewards have been immeasurable, and I’m confident that NCRA will continue as a prosperous association — not because of me or any one of us singularly, but with all of us collectively keeping our minds and hearts open and always, always, always enjoying the journey.

With that, I ask you all to call me by my new name, Tami Keenan, and once more join me in saying that wonderful phrase: Dream, Believe, Inspire.

Tami Smith Keenan, RPR, CPE, is NCRA’s current president.