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NCRA A to Z: Stepping stone to stenography

Brooke Maschmann is one of the many success stories from the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program. Shortly after completing the program last October, she enrolled in court reporting school. She traveled to Houston in July for her first NCRA Conference and, in addition to meeting so many of her fellow students and future colleagues, met Max Curry, RPR, CRI, her NCRA A to Z program leader.

“I was so pleased when Brooke approached me at one of the social events at the Conference in Houston, reminding me that she had attended my NCRA A to Z program,” says Curry. “I was so excited when she shared with me her positive experience and super excited to hear that she had enrolled in school. Brooke and others like her who have found the love and excitement for our profession give me great hope for our future as being nothing but bright!”

The JCR interviewed Maschmann about the NCRA A to Z program, her experience at the Conference, and her plans for the future.

JCR | How did you hear about the NCRA A to Z program?

BM | I have known Erin Blair [RPR] for over five years now. They are always raving about their career in court reporting, so I picked their brain over coffee one afternoon late last summer. That conversation led me to the NCRA A to Z program, and I immediately signed up for the September-October classes. Erin has been a great inspiration and mentor to me throughout this process.

JCR | What surprised you most about learning steno in the NCRA A to Z program?

BM | I was shocked by the immediate intrigue that took hold of me to learn the language. I knew after just one or two classes that I wanted to pursue a career in this field.

JCR | How soon after completing the NCRA A to Z program did you enroll in Mark Kislingbury’s Academy of Court Reporting? Did you have another career before starting school?

BM | I finished NCRA A to Z in October 2022. On October 31, I enrolled in Mark’s program to begin the online non-live program on December 5. Prior to starting school, I worked in the hospitality industry and as a cosmetologist for 14 years.

JCR | What would you say to others considering career choices to encourage them to enroll in the NCRA A to Z program?

BM | Completing the NCRA A to Z program will give you a solid grasp of the alphabet, numbers, hand placement, and posture with the added bonus of insight from industry veterans regarding options for school and career opportunities … for free! You will absolutely put yourself ahead by taking advantage of NCRA A to Z before deciding on a school.

JCR | Tell us about your first NCRA Conference in Houston. What were your favorite sessions?

BM | “The Superpower of Steno Machines: Opportunities Abound” was my favorite session. Toni Christy [RPR, CRR, CRC]; Sheri Smargon [RDR, CRR, CRC]; and Lindsay Stoker [RPR, CRC] shared their inspiring stories of realtime work for awards shows, professional sporting events, and much more! I left the room with a surreal feeling of knowing that I can and will do things with this skill that I would never have even dreamt of prior to jumping on this roller coaster.

My second favorite session was “The Next Generation of Steno.” Chandler Alvino [RPR] and Alex Lederer [RPR] are newer working professionals. I truly appreciated the insight and raw honesty from people who also attended online programs and are now thriving. These two had a lot of valuable tips on how to maintain positivity during school and what can be expected when the time comes for certification testing. This session left me feeling extremely grateful for the connection with now-succeeding professionals who understand the ebb and flow of being an online steno student.

JCR | Did you meet any people at the Conference who inspired you?

BM | I met countless people at the Conference who were inspiring to me, honestly too many to name. I have to say, though, that amongst them Alan Peacock [FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC] truly stands out. I had the opportunity to speak with him about his experience with people who are deaf and hard of hearing. His passion for them and for the importance of accessibility was immediately apparent to me, and I have the utmost respect for him on account of that!

JCR | Do you plan on going to the Conference in Louisville, Ky., next year?

BM | Absolutely!

JCR | What are your plans for when you finish school? What is your dream job?

BM | I do not have solidified plans immediately following graduation/certification. However, I was drawn to this field as a 34-year-old student because of my mother who is my biggest supporter. Beginning when she was just 23 years old, she suffered through multiple cholesteatomas and subsequently several mastoidectomy surgeries which have left her extremely hard of hearing. She is lucky enough to have undergone cochlear implant surgery last year, and I believe they have made an extremely positive impact on her quality of life.

Having seen her struggle firsthand all my life, it is my ultimate aspiration to eventually work with and provide accessibility to folks who are deaf and hard of hearing. I cannot think of another vocation that would be more rewarding!

Brooke Maschmann lives in Des Moines, Iowa, and attends the Mark Kislingbury Academy of Court Reporting.