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See Ya in Houston!

By Amie R. First, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE

Students, now is the time to start making plans to attend the 2023 NCRA Conference & Expo in Houston, Texas, July 27-30. The theme is “Make Every Connection Matter.” You will meet reporters, fellow students, and make connections that will last throughout your career, even throughout your lifetime.  

Of course, as a student, cost is always an issue. Here’s some great news! NCRF is giving away 10 free student Conference registrations to current NCRA student members. Students must submit an application verifying court reporting school attendance as well as a speed of at least 180 wpm. Ten winners will be drawn at random from the qualified applications received.

Student Christine Moers, currently at 160, has been to two Conferences. She shared her thoughts about the Conference at the NCRF Ask Me Anything Zoom event.

This will be my third Conference,” said Moers. “I’m thrilled it is in Texas and I don’t have to fly to this one. Two aspects of the Conference are huge to me. One is that most of us are in school online. Going to the Conference, you get to finally connect in person with other students. And really, nobody else understands what you are going through. Nobody else in your life gets it. But all of these other students really do. And all the court reporters do. So I think that’s a big piece that we miss out on.

“I will add, the easiest way to meet everyone at a Conference is to say, ‘Hi, I’m a student.’ Just say it.   And you will instantly know everything about them, you will have their business card, and they will pull you under their wing. That is how I met everyone. And they light up the second you tell them that you’re a student. It is one of the most encouraging experiences that I have ever had,” she added.

Here are some tips to plan your trip:

  • Join the #NCRAHouston Facebook page – it’s all about the Conference. Start networking early! Reduce hotel costs by posting that you are looking for a roommate or post your flight arrival time and which airport to see if you can share a ride to the hotel. Both airports are centrally located. Uber is recommended as cab fares are higher.  
  • Bring business cards with your student information. And of course, don’t forget to include that you are a Future Court Reporter!
  • The attire is business casual. This is a professional event. Two suggestions: Wear comfortable shoes and bring a sweater. It will be warm outside, but the seminar rooms are always cold.
  • Something new this year! NCRA will have onsite skills certification testing on July 25 at 8:00 a.m. Why not give the RSR or RPR a try! The room is limited to 40 testers. Registration closes July 1 or whenever space is filled.
  • The Conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Houston Downtown. The venue is going to be great for networking. Get your room booked early! NCRA’s discounted hotel rates end July 3, or when the block is filled, whichever comes first. Below the hotel is Houston’s “Underground,” which is a system of tunnels more than six miles long. The “Underground” has many food venues for Friday Lunch on Your Own. Texas offers the best Tex-Mex and barbecue!
  • You don’t need to bring your steno machine to seminars; however, you should consider bringing it because you have to practice every day! Take great care in traveling with your machine. Keep it with you at all times. Do not pack it in your luggage. Put it under your seat on the plane. You might consider investing in a Stenograph Jet Pak for added protection.

Rich Germosen, FAPR, RDR, CRR, founder of the 100 Day Practice Group on Facebook, wisely suggests: “If you are asking me, take your writer. You have to practice … especially if you are a student so you can get out and join the ranks.”

  • Houston is home to the World Series champion Houston Astros. Locals Rene White, RPR, CRR, and Leticia Villanueva Salas, RMR, are hosting the NCRA Night at the Ballpark, Astros versus Rangers, Wednesday, July 26. Game time is 7:10 pm. The cost is $42 a person. More than 70 people have signed up already! Visit the #NCRAHouston Facebook page for more information on getting your ticket.   

Logan Kislingbury, RPR, is also a Texas CSR and Washington CCR. Logan has been freelancing for four years. He offered his perspectives on the Conference at the Ask Me Anything Zoom event.

“I went to the Las Vegas Conference, my first as a full-time reporter,” said Kislingbury. “That was great because the CEU classes were beneficial at that point. There was a lot to learn, especially because, as a student, there were things about the job that I didn’t really understand. I was more focused on speedbuilding at the time. But as a working reporter, the classes made a lot of sense to me. And I was thinking, wow, I didn’t realize I could record Zoom audio this way. I didn’t realize that my software could do this. If something happens in a deposition, try this. 

“I had a blast at the Conferences as a student and now as a full-time reporter who actually knows what’s going on. Meeting a lot of incredible reporters, making a lot of connections, it has been fantastic. I’m so appreciative of it,” he added.

Here are a few highlights of the Conference – make sure to attend!

  • The Membership Committee will have greeters at registration. Just look for the NCRA greeters sash!   This is a great time to ask any questions you may have. Also, there will be a Membership booth in the Expo Hall. Stop by to say hi and make sure you are taking full advantage of all membership has to offer.
  • Look for the chat feature on the Conference mobile app and keep in touch with other students. Send a message to me, Amie First, when you arrive. I am planning a casual student gathering on Thursday night. This will be the perfect time to meet your peers and start making the most of your Conference experience. Let me know when you are arriving!
  • The Student Breakfast and Welcome will be on Friday morning at 7:30 a.m. Yes, it’s early, but worth it! We will provide a Conference overview and give you suggestions on the best seminars for students to attend. We will then head to the Premier Session together.
  • The Expo Hall is fully booked again this year. There will be lots of exhibitors there to show you the latest and greatest products. They can also answer your questions. Take advantage of this time to learn what’s out there.
  • If you need some inspiration to practice, come watch the contests! The Speed Contest is Wednesday, July 26 at 9:00 a.m. The Realtime Contest is Thursday, July 27 at 1:00 p.m. Come early before the doors close. You can sit in the back of the room and watch – quietly, of course! Prepare to be awestruck! 
  • Find out who won the contests and other prestigious awards by attending the Awards Luncheon Saturday. The luncheon ticket is included in your student registration. 
  • Saturday night is the Members Recognition Gala. The theme is “Boot Scootin’ in Houston.” Grab your country gear and get ready for some boot scootin’ boogie! The student registration covers all the networking activities except the Gala, but keep your eyes open for an announcement on the mobile app advertising extra tickets to the event for students.  

Bethany Morse, RSR — also a Washington CSR — has been reporting for two years. She will be speaking at a seminar entitled “Bridging the Gap: Real-World Advice for Easing the Transition from Graduation to Freelancing.” She shared her Conference experience as a student and new reporter at the Ask Me Anything Zoom event.

“I’ve attended two Conferences: Vegas in high speeds, and Orlando after I graduated,” said Morse. “I will tell you, I have never been in a field that is more encouraging and inspiring and supportive of current students, new grads, and new professionals than this field. It is just amazing.” 

“I am normally a very shy person. But when I go to the Conference, I try to really put myself out there and introduce myself to people. And they are so friendly and welcoming and supportive. Everybody you meet at the Conference is supportive. They want to help you. They want to give you advice. They want to find out what you need. And that is really the true gift of going to the Conference, in my opinion,” she added.

If you are a student or a new grad, please, please go to the Conference. You will not regret it. And try to spend as much time amongst people, meeting people as you can. Don’t just hang out in your room and go to the seminars. The seminars are great, but so is hanging out in the Expo Hall and talking to vendors and going to the luncheon and the dinner and the speed/realtime competitions. It is all a learning experience. And it is all so inspiring.

I hope I’ve given you plenty of reasons to start making plans to attend the Conference. Again, find me on the Conference mobile app chat, Amie First, or feel free to text/email if you have any questions, 330-760-2452,

See Ya in Houston!

Amie First, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE is an official based in Orlando, Fla., and Chair of the NCRA Student/Teacher Committee. She can be reached at