By Emily Bergren
Heather Randall, RPR, graduated from the Stenotype Institute located in Jacksonville, Fla., where she lives.
JCR | Why did you choose to become a court reporter?
HR | I obtained my bachelor’s degree in business management as well as hospitality management in 2002. I had hopes and dreams of becoming an event and wedding planner. At the age of 27, I started the process of interviewing for my dream job. After a few days of interviewing, I was told that I would fail as an event planner. I was devastated. I went home that day sulking and sat on the couch with some popcorn, and there it was … a commercial for the Stenotype Institute. My own boss? My own hours? The salary? How glamorous! I started that next Monday. I love sharing my story because it proves that you always can start over.
JCR | What was life like as a student?
HR | School was hard. I mean, real hard. I loved the enthusiasm of my teachers. I feel that their encouragement and passion helped me endure all the hard days and failed tests. The best feeling I ever had through school was seeing that passing grade on my final 225 wpm test! I’ll never forget making the phone calls saying, “I did it!” It was so worth all those grueling days.
JCR | Who is your mentor?
HR | When I was in school, my grandmother sadly passed. We flew out to Oklahoma to be with family and to celebrate her life. I found time around the family gatherings to practice with my tapes in, headphones on, and 1960s writer set up. During one of my practice sessions, a man walked up to me and introduced himself as Jerry Kelley. He was a retired court reporter and had extensive knowledge, contacts, words of advice, and many stories. From that day on, I started receiving daily e-mails with information and an inspirational note or two. Jerry Kelley was a name I would come to see across many NCRA articles and through conversations with other reporters. Jerry has since passed, but his passion radiated, and it was contagious what he felt about our profession.
JCR | What do you love about working in the industry?
HR | I love that we are continuously learning new things every day. I love that we don’t know what to expect walking into a job. I love that I am meeting new people and new personalities every day. There are ups and down and ins and outs, but I usually just take it all in.
JCR | What are some of your favorite time-saving practices?
HR | I am constantly writing in my head. Whether I am in conversation, texting, listening at church, ordering a meal, I’m always thinking of briefs. I think briefs are what have saved me through school and in my career. Even on the days that I don’t have any jobs or pages, I will take out my machine, turn on something interesting, and practice. I could call myself a stenographer geek, but I just honestly love what I do, and I get so excited when I can figure out a way to make my job easier.
JCR | Do you have advice for reporting students?
HR | Practice! Practice! Practice! Dedication is determination, and determination is dedication. Your machine is your best friend. The more you get to know it, the better it will treat you. Steno is another language, and the more you practice and use it, the easier it will just slide through your mind and out of your fingers.
Emily Bergren, RPR, CRR, is a freelance reporter in Kansas City, Mo.