Stephanie Famber is a court reporting student based in Atlanta, Ga., and was kind enough to grant the JCR Weekly an interview about their experience at the 2023 NCRA Conference & Expo in Houston, Texas.
JCR | What made you want to attend the NCRA Conference in Houston? How did you hear about it?
SF: The brick-and-mortar court reporting school I was attending closed, leaving me isolated and heading toward burnout. I registered for the NCRA 2023 Conference in hopes of finding support, guidance, encouragement, and to be reinvigorated. I had gone to the 2019 Conference in Denver and was aware of the annual event through the NCRA website.
JCR | Is this your first time attending NCRA’s annual conference? What was your favorite thing you got to experience?
SF: Houston was my second NCRA Conference. My favorite thing this year was without a doubt the presentation by the NCRA STRONG Committee: Artificial Justice! Small Errors, Big Consequences. These ladies did an incredible job of breaking down the complexities of AI/ASR into digestible chunks. I am a student, completely ignorant on the matter, and was able to hold an intelligible conversation on the matter immediately thereafter. I look forward to learning from them in the future. The members of this committee are the secret warriors fighting for our careers. Please know them, thank them, and support them! Thank you, Sue Terry, Stacey Raikes, Mary Pierce, Jo Ann Holmgren and the rest of the committee. Use their webpage: https://www.ncra.org/home/get-involved/ncra-strong—home to learn more.
JCR | How did you end up in the world of court reporting?
SF: In 2012 I was in a nearly fatal motorcycle accident. The recovery road has been long and treacherous. Somewhere along the way I was confronted with the realization that my previous, highly physically demanding, career was no longer an option. In my search for a more sedentary career that still makes a difference, my attorney mother-in-law recommended court reporting. I haven’t looked back since.
JCR | Where do you see the industry headed? How can members continue to thrive?
SF: As a student, this is a particularly hard question for me to answer. Over the weekend I realized that myself and perhaps others are only talking about the tip of the iceberg, while committees like NCRA STRONG are chipping away, unnoticed, at the bottom. There is strength and safety in numbers. It is only once we are safe that we can look to thrive. Sharing information distilled by committees like NCRA STRONG makes us safer, as do state grassroots efforts and associations, advocates, and the many other efforts I am ignorant to. The better we get at stepping outside of our politics and working together for the protection and production of stenographic writers, the stronger we become. We can truly thrive when the entire community is united behind that goal.
JCR | When did you join NCRA? Is there a certification you are working towards?
SF: I joined the NCRA in 2019. I am working toward my RPR.
JCR | Is there anything you’d like to share about your experience, whether if it is as a student, or even why you entered this career field?
SF: At risk of being corny, I think the conference attendees really embraced the motto this year “make every connection matter”. Saturday morning, I engaged in a short pre-seminar chat with a gentleman. It was very pleasant, informative, and encouraging, but I thought it was just that, a quick chat. At the conclusion of the seminar this wonderful gentleman took the time to introduce me to his lovely fellow federal official, whom immediately took my contact information and forwarded it to another individual, whom I did meet after the gala. Every single one of these connections mattered for me, without these two individuals and many, many, others like them, I would not have made the vital connections I needed to take home with me to be successful. No matter how small the connection may seem, be kind to each other. You never know the impact you may have.
JCR | What is a sleeper issue you feel the court reporting community is failing to recognize or give enough attention?
SF: In conversation at the conference, I learned that some of the NCRA-approved court reporting programs also produce digital reporters. At the very least this is counterproductive, is it also unethical? This career field is in desperate need of stenographers and certified court reporters, and while the NCRA STRONG Committee fights diligently against this very issue, is another branch of the NCRA possibly undermining them and the integrity of our profession?
JCR | Do you plan on attending the NCRA Conference next year in Louisville, Ky.?
SF: Absolutely. I am grateful beyond words for the community, inspiration, and education each conference brings.
JCR | If you attended a seminar, which was your favorite and why?
SF: NCRA Houston 2023. I feel like I met the powerhouse of the NCRA this year, and I loved every second of it!