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Facebook group offers encouragement for certification

We could all use a little help from our friends, even if sometimes they are just “Facebook friends.” Facebook groups are a good way for students, reporters, and captioners to find support, whether they are practicing, testing for certifications, looking for briefs, or just trying to get through the day. The JCR checked in with some members of the Facebook group “Stenographers Leveling Up with Certifications” to find out how it has helped them.

Thanks to the following people for responding:

Cindy Bowden, RPR
Freelancer, Bakersfield, Calif.

Chris DeGrazio
Fort Pierce, Fla.

Cassandra Ellis, RPR, CRR
Freelancer and CART captioner, Silver Spring, Md.

Cindy Magnussen, RDR, CRR
Freelancer, Henderson, Nev.

Cathy Zelinski, CRC
CART captioner and freelancer, Norton, Mass.

JCR | What is the “Stenographers Leveling Up with Certifications” Facebook group, and why did you decide to join?

Magnussen | Leveling Up is a group of court reporters aspiring to gain new certifications and celebrating those who do pass a new test. A friend of mine suggested I join the group. Also, one of the main reasons I joined was to be involved in the practice sessions offered by “Wisdom Hope” (Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI), the group admin-founder. I wasn’t able to do too many of the practice sessions due to timing, but I definitely learned some great tips for staying calm before taking a test and some of the steps of taking a test online.

Zelinski | I stumbled upon this group while scrolling different groups. I decided after 36 years in this business, I would make an effort to get those certifications I failed to get right out of school.

Bowden | To motivate me in semi-retirement to continue to have the same goals that I set out to do when I first graduated from court reporting school. Being in a group that is like-minded and seeing daily posts that someone else has obtained more letters behind their name reminds me that I can do it, too!

DeGrazio | I decided to join because at the time I had the RPR Q&A and WKT left to take/pass. I found the page to be uplifting, encouraging, and motivating. It is amazing being part of a group that exists to lift one another up and share valuable information about the profession.

JCR | How has the group helped to encourage you?

Bowden | It has encouraged me to practice, practice, practice as I came across a post for a 90-day challenge to practice daily and to take a 5-minute test. You are required to post your score in a group DM and the commitment is priceless for the rewards to come, which is new letters behind your name. Everyone is striving for the same goal, and it brings a smile to my face to see the newly certified [posts] as I know my name will be there soon.

Zelinski | This group is positive and empowering. The members really help one another and lift each other up. They are encouraging and give tips on how to pass your test. They are an amazing support group. It seems like an amazing resource. They offer meditation, practice sessions, and a fun section where you’re encouraged to write to a favorite song.

Ellis | Really, we talk to one another. If somebody is struggling with a phrase or word, other people will come up with briefs to make it easier. There is a weekly CRR practice group. Everyone will wish you well on your certification testing if you let them know you’re taking a test. And if you pass it, they are all positive and friendly and so happy for one another. And if you don’t pass it, they build you up with words of encouragement.

DeGrazio | The group celebrates one another’s accomplishments and the challenging tests and experiences between them. The group also promotes various court reporting-related content, so it’s wonderful having an additional Facebook group to get plugged in to.

Magnussen | I just passed the CRR test, and I got so much support from everyone in the group. It felt so nice to have so many court reporters congratulating me and giving a virtual high five.

JCR | Have you taken any NCRA tests since you’ve been in the group?

Ellis | I have taken the CRR and passed it with a 98 percent. I also took the California CSR. I took the dictation in July and passed it, and the English in June and passed that as well. I still have the procedures to take but feel I will pass that as well.

DeGrazio | Yes. July 20, 2021, I passed the RPR Q&A test at 95 percent. It was my fifth attempt. Never give up. I’m taking the WKT next year.

Zelinski | I recently passed my CRC certification in May 2021. I’m waiting the official results for my RPR. I took the three legs of the skills portion this morning.

Magnussen | CRR. Third time was the charm for me.

Bowden | Yes, 240 Jury Charge, and I have successfully passed the 200 Lit. And my goal is to pass one leg at a time as it is not a race; it is how I finish. And in November, I feel confident I will pass the Jury Charge and in my next opportunity I will have three more letters (RMR). Next up will be CRR and RDR.

JCR | What is a No Pass Victory?

DeGrazio | I’m not sure who came up with that term. Whoever it was, thank you! It allows us to celebrate the success of taking a test, even if we didn’t pass it. It’s easy to attribute our worth, skill, and ability to a percentage. So, if we don’t pass a test, it can be easy to see the whole experience as a failure. “NPV” empowers test-takers to post that they took a test, didn’t pass, and that it is still a victory because we came out on the other side and did our best (hopefully).  And we often share how we plan to practice differently so that next time is a pass. #NPV

Ellis | Validation if you don’t pass a test that you are out there trying. That you cannot fail if you are trying and dusting yourself off to try again until you pass.

Bowden | To me, it means I have attempted to succeed, and I am winning because I took the first step and each step leads to a pass and you only fail if you quit trying, so that is the victory.

JCR | Are there any other stenography-related Facebook “support” groups that you belong to?

Zelinski | Yes. CART Captioners, Brief Exchange, CaseCatalyst Reporters & Users, and MCRA, my state association, of which I am a board member.

DeGrazio | I also created a LGBTQIA+ Facebook group. We celebrate our fellow court reporters who identify with one of those letters, and we post freely about our relationships and lives without fear of professional consequence or gossip. The group is not intended to be LGBTQIA+ only and come across as exclusive or tribal. Most of us in the group didn’t know many other court reporters who were also LGBTQIA+. Next year the group will open to allies, which could be any heterosexual person who is pro-LGBTQIA+.

Ellis | I belong to Rich Germosen’s 100 Days group.

Bowden | I follow African American Court Reporters, which I had no idea existed until I attended a conference in Texas. And that is the joy of this profession, meeting new people and hooking up with old classmates as well. I follow The Brief Exchange; Caption Masters; Court Reporter Job Board, Bakersfield; Court Reporting Stuff, Buy/Sell/Swap; Nevada Court Reporters; Steno in the City; CSRs looking into taking the Texas CSR (this Facebook account helped me pass my Texas CSR, because of the wealth of information that was on the page); Realtime Coach; and Kimi’s Court Reporter Thrift Shop.

Top row from left to right: Cathy Zelinski, CRC, Cassandra Ellis, RPR, CRR, Chris DeGrazio; Bottom row from left to right: Cindy Bowden, RPR, Cindy Magnussen, RDR, CRR