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NCRA committees join forces to support students and members and encourage new members

The NCRA Membership, Marketing, and Outreach Committee (MMOC) is hosting a Motivation Monday Zoom event on June 17 at 8 p.m. Eastern, meeting its charge to develop initiatives focused on students and new professionals and to help recruit new members. The event is being held in coordination with NCRA’s New Professionals Advisory and New Professionals Veterans Liaison Committee and the Student/Teacher Committee. A panel of professionals will address the issues of practice, mindset, and balance. Panelists include:

Scott Wallace
  • Nicole Bulldis, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Phoenix, Az.
  • Amie R. First, RDR, CRR, CRC, CPE, an official court reporter and CART provider from Orlando, Fla., and Chair, NCRA Student/Teacher Committee
  • Alycia Mikels, RPR, a court reporter from Pepperell, Mass.
  • Joseph Shewmaker, an official court reporter from Chickasha, Okla.
  • Scott L. Wallace, RDR, CRR, official court reporter from Glenn Dale, Md., and member of the NCRA Committee on Professional Ethics
Chris DeGrazio2
Chris DeGrazio

NCRA member Chris DeGrazio, a freelance reporter from Fort Pierce, Fla., who serves on the MMOC, said that the idea for the Motivational Monday event was the result of a combination of his attending a few of the Texas CSR Motivational Zoom events that MMOC Chair Kensie Benoit, an official court reporter from San Antonio, Texas, hosted back in February as well as some conversations he had with First about mentoring students.

“Everybody needs motivation, from long-time working reporters to a new theory student,” said First, “Chris gave me good insight into what other committees were working on, and there was some overlap,” she added. “It’s important to build connections with NCRA and develop future leaders,” she said. 

Amie First headshot
Amie First

“From the Student/Teacher Committee perspective, we should strive to offer these informal Zoom sessions to students as often as possible,” First added. “We need to meet students where they are. For instance, theory students have different needs from high speed students, so we should have a Zoom session geared toward them,” she explained. “Also, with the increase in recruitment efforts and online steno students, there needs to be an expansion of the mentoring program — and group mentoring is a great answer because it creates a wonderful sense of community!”

First said she hopes that after the Zoom session participants feel a sense of community because steno is a shared experience. DeGrazio agreed and added that he hopes participants will also take away a practice approach/technique, mindset, and/or insight they didn’t have before attending.

“This may be the first time three NCRA committees have been able to collaborate to put on an educational and casual type of Zoom meeting like this. Each committee has its own objectives and tasks, but one that is mutually shared is giving back to students and new professionals,” he said.

DeGrazio said the committees plan to offer similar types of Zoom sessions in the future, most likely on a biannual schedule, and invites anyone who wants to collaborate on future events to reach out to the MMOC.

“Students and new professionals learn from veteran court reporters just as much as veteran court reporters learn from students and new professionals. The enthusiasm that students and new professionals have is matched with the knowledge and observations that veteran court reporters offer,” DeGrazio noted. “It was important for us to create and host a free event open to nonmembers so that anyone and everyone could attend, learn, and connect. Make every connection matter.”

Joseph Shewmaker
Joseph Shewmaker

Panelist Shewmaker said he hopes attendees will gain further insight into what it takes to give the final push for earning their certifications. “It is important to have a strong sense of community in a school like this. With such a high dropout rate, it becomes essential that you look to your peers and people around you in the same situation to support each other and talk each other off ledges,” he said.

“I wish to become more involved with the court reporting community after seeing the friendships made among court reporters and the advice handed around. It’s great to know there are people of all kinds who have made it and very much want everyone else to make it as well,” Shewmaker added.

For more information about Motivation Monday, contact Chris DeGrazio at Those interested in attending can join the Zoom meeting here. The meeting ID is 860 5875 3502, and the passcode is 335914.