By Dana Spear
I love attending NCRA Conferences and would encourage any student to attend if they are able. I always return home motivated to push forward and ready to get on my machine. In 2019, I was fortunate to attend the NCRA Convention & Expo in Denver, Colo., as a student. It was a great privilege to be there and rub shoulders with so many amazing court reporters and captioners and to learn more about this amazing profession. One event, however, stands out in my mind as one of the highlights of my experience, and that is the student activity organized and orchestrated by Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, an official court reporter, captioner, and CART provider from Washington, D.C.
This sponsored event, entitled, “High Tea for High Achievers,” was held at TeeLee’s Tea House, a five-minute drive from the NCRA Convention site. We were invited to dress in our “tea attire” and encouraged to wear hats and fascinators. At the time, I didn’t know what a fascinator was, but I wanted to “look the part.” Not only did I buy one, but I also made sure that word was entered into my dictionary!
We were “taxied” over to the tea house on Friday evening. This unique cafe is located at the gateway of Denver’s Historic Five Points. I have experience in organizing events, and I could tell a lot of thought and love went into every detail. Each placemat was set with not only the dinnerware, but also a pen and small notepad for taking notes.
The food was amazing. I had the chicken mango salad with broccoli quiche. Each student was given complimentary drinks, and a selection of either iced or hot tea. Dinner was followed by an assortment of light desserts.
During dinner, students, reporters, and captioners who were attending got to casually mingle and get to know each other. Before this event, I wasn’t as comfortable mingling with the students. I came alone as the only student from my school, and the large room where the student track was held was not conducive to interacting with people on a more personal level. This event helped me relax and allowed me to socialize with my fellow students.
After dinner we all proceeded downstairs. An impressive group of reporters and captioners was lined up to address us and to answer our questions. We heard from Isaiah Roberts, RPR, from Magnolia, Ill., and Stan Sakai, a freelancer in New York, N.Y., about their fascinating experience captioning at Coachella. Saba McKinley, RPR, CRI, a freelance court reporter and captioner from Murfreesboro, Tenn., shared her insights on being innovative and intentional in court reporting. Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE, and national marketing manager for Realtime Coach, from Annapolis, Md., talked about achieving excellence, as well as certifications in court reporting.
Donna Betza, CMRS, acting deputy director of court reporting, Washington, D.C. Superior Court, and former court reporting firm owner, explained what to expect while working as a court reporter. Jennifer Billstein-Miller, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Mantua, N.J., talked about overcoming obstacles in court reporting and in life. Rogers, an official court reporter, shared unusual things that happen in court reporting and our uniqueness that we bring to the profession. We also heard from Mary Beth Johnson, CRI, a teacher at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania. During the presentation, fun prizes were raffled off to the students, and at the end of the event, each student received a gift bag that contained an Irish tea glass with a tea flower to commemorate the event.
I truly appreciate all the work that went into this event. I want to thank those who sponsored this social, but I would especially like to thank Rogers who was the mastermind behind this successful gathering. She put a lot of hard work, planning, and detail into each aspect of this event, and her efforts and talents paid off. She continues to “give back” to the profession and encourages students to persevere by organizing Zoom events and socials. I have attended virtual gatherings that she has organized, and they are motivational, inspirational, and remind me why I want to pursue this amazing profession. It has been a very difficult and slow journey for me, but people like Rogers who encourage us and provide opportunities for us to learn more about court reporting, keep me going. I hope that I can “give back” someday when I add those “letters” behind my name.
I look forward to attending the 2021 NCRA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., and hope to meet some of you there.
Dana Spear lives in San Antonio, Texas, and is a student at Tulsa Community College, in Tusla, Okla.