By Molly Cooper
Grace Kwahk is an ambitious young professional who earned her license in 2019 after studying at South Coast College in Orange, Calif. She made her mark very early on when, as a student, she was invited to join the captioning team at the one and only Academy Awards three years in a row. Kwahk is embracing her career as a freelance deposition reporter in the Orange County and Los Angeles areas and has a promising future ahead of her.
JCR | How did you feel both going into your first assignment as a reporter and coming out of it?
GK | I expected to be really nervous going into my first job, but I was actually surprised by how calm and prepared I felt the night before. I got to the job an hour and a half before it was scheduled to start, waited in my car for a bit to talk to my mentors, and walked in the building. I was so disappointed when the receptionist told me the job had canceled in the morning.
My actual first official job was different. I was so nervous the night before the job! I remember I didn’t get much sleep because I was excited/nervous of what the day would bring. I woke up at 5 a.m. to get to my West L.A. job, and I remember waiting in the car and feeling so anxious. Fast forward seven hours, and I was done. It was a long and exhausting day, but I felt great. Driving back home in traffic couldn’t even bring me down from the high I was experiencing from doing my first job.
JCR | What is a current goal? What is a long-term goal?
GK | Right now, I’m working toward getting my RPR. I initially had planned on getting ready for it right away, but I just got caught up with working. I’m taking advantage of this downtime during this pandemic to get back into test-taking mode.
A long-term goal would be eventually feeling comfortable enough to provide realtime.
JCR | Do you have any advice for reporting students?
GK | We’ve all heard this before: Don’t give up. We’ve all been there and know how frustrating it is to be stuck at a speed. If you feel like practicing isn’t getting you anywhere, take a little break and then get right back to it again. Practicing is only going to bring you closer to passing that one test.
Another thing I would like to add is to sit out as much as you possibly can. I honestly feel like the reason why I felt so prepared to work after I passed the CSR was because I sat out with my mentors and friends as much as I could. Putting yourself in those real-life situations and getting as much exposure as possible really makes it so much easier to do it on your own when the time comes.
JCR | What’s something that you’ve learned in the field that you didn’t learn in school?
GK | I think speaking up when you can’t hear someone well is the most important thing to do. We don’t really do that when we’re in school, but when you’re working, it is your job to preserve the record and you have to be able to hear what people are saying in order to do that.
JCR | Where’s your favorite place to proofread jobs and why?
GK | My favorite place to proof would either be proofing on the sofa with my little furchild or in my bed, again, with my furbaby. If I’m proofing right after a long day, then I’ll proof while I’m standing at my desk just so I don’t spend all day sitting down.
JCR | During the stay-at-home orders, what did you miss most about deposition work?
GK | I never thought I would miss driving to West L.A., but I do. I miss getting ready for work, putting on professional clothes, and going to Starbucks for my second morning coffee. It’s also so much fun meeting new people and exchanging memorable depo stories.
JCR | What’s something that makes you proud to be a stenographer?
GK | I am really proud to be a part of a group of amazing reporters. No one else can do what we do. We play a very crucial role in the legal field. Our ability to take down verbatim testimony can never be replaced.
Molly Cooper, RPR, is a freelance court reporter in Fullerton, Calif. She can be reached at Mollycoop@rocketmail.com.