By Michael Bouley
What does love look like to you? Lots of us love our profession. Some of us love to practice. We all do our best to love one another.
This is a story about love. Love for all those things, yes. But especially love for Monyeen Black and her husband, Keith.
Rich Germosen, RDR, CRR, a freelancer from North Brunswick, N.J. , runs a practice group, the 100-Day Challenge, on Facebook. Participants, both working professionals and students, aim to practice 15 minutes a day every day for 100 days. If you miss a day, you start over. It’s a wonderful collection of stenographers who love to improve at what they do. Current streaks range from 1 day to more than 1,500 consecutive days of practice, 15 minutes a day every single day.
And Mo was a practicer.
“I had the pleasure of knowing Monyeen Black for the last few years. She encouraged me to come to a DRA convention in 2016. Mo has been on the practice page since 2016 and completed four 100-day challenges,” Germosen said.
“Monyeen messaged me around September of 2019 to let me know why she wasn’t practicing. At that point, she did not have a diagnosis and wasn’t sure what was going on. Once Monyeen was ready, she told everyone on the practice page on Oct. 30 of 2019, about her battle with a very rare autoimmune disease called dermatomyositis. From that point forward, I had posted/asked that we’re all going to be using the hashtag #thinkingofMonyeen in our practice to support Monyeen,” Germosen added.
As everyone continued to post their practice, which is one of the few requirements, the hashtags started appearing: #thinkingofMonyeen, #100daysforMonyeen, and #Mostrong were popping on the page. The love and support were proudly demonstrated as Mo and her husband, Keith, fought for her recovery.
Then practicer Allie Hall, RDR, CRR, a full-time official court reporter and court reporting instructor from Tulsa, Okla., suggested we challenge ourselves to an extra 15 minutes per day to show our support for Mo and Keith. And so it was that around 80 practicers signed up to do an extra 15 minutes a day for Mo.
“In the middle of this battle, Monyeen was able to complete her 4th 100-day challenge. She completed 108 consecutive days and received the 2020 Guts Award at our 100-Day Meet and Greet Zoom get-together on August 6, 2020,” Germosen said.
The Guts Award is given annually to a practicer who demonstrates extraordinary commitment to their practice in the face of serious challenges.
Yet Mo was so much more than a practicer.
Sarah Seitz, RPR, a freelancer from Pittsburg, Calif., said “I first got invited to the practice group by Monyeen when I was still a student. Her never-ending determination to better her skills was something I always looked up to. Even after being the wonderful realtime reporter that she was, she still practiced, still strived to become better and better.
“I am so grateful to have been her mentee and her friend. She taught me to have pride in what I do. Monyeen helped me grow from a student, unsure of myself, questioning my skills, into a realtime reporter who walks into that deposition, head held high, knowing that I can rock it. I owe so much of who I am today to her, professionally and personally.”
Tragically, Mo lost her battle with dermatomyositis and passed at home on Jan. 11, 2021.
Upon her passing, the group naturally mourned but quickly decided they would continue to honor their commitment to her with a Zoom session for their Day 100 for Monyeen, all gathered together, calling it “Bring it Home for Mo.” It is scheduled for Feb. 25, 2021, and Rich has selected Marc Steno Greenberg’s interview of Monyeen for the documentary “For the Record” as their practice material that evening.
Additionally, they began raising funds and posthumously made her an NCRF Angel, as well as establishing a Monyeen Black Memorial Scholarship through NCRF. Donations are being accepted for the scholarship through Mobile Cause by texting (lower case) monyeen to 41444 or use the link.
“Mo always did everything to the fullest,” said her husband, Keith. “When she worked, nothing else mattered. When she got into motorcycling, it was how deep could she get into it. As you know with her practice ethic, she never had to win. She just had to make sure she had done the absolute best she could do and leave nothing on the table.”
Germosen said, “Monyeen will be missed very much by everyone on the page as well as the court reporting community.”
Seitz said, “I will continue to better myself and pass along what she taught me, keeping her memory alive.”
Keith said, “Thank you for all that you have done in her name. She would be absolutely humbled, as I am.”
What began as a pledge of unity during her illness became a sacred commitment in her memory. A way for us to say goodbye, farewell and Godspeed, and thank you. So we’re bringing it home for Mo.
In life she created a beautiful, lasting legacy. And in typical Monyeen style, before she left, in all her selfless sweetness, she taught us one last lesson: This is what love looks like.
Michael Bouley, RDR, is a freelance court reporter from Henderson, Nev., and an NCRF Trustee.
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