Stenograph scholarship winner announced

Lisa Wurtinger

The National Court Reporters Foundation has announced the winner of Stenograph’s Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, a new scholarship that honors the memory of Milton H. Wright, Stenograph’s founder. Lisa Wurtinger, a student at Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn., will receive the merit-based two-year award, which is worth up to $5,000 per year and will include use of a student writer and software. Candidates were required to have completed an NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program.

“I am incredibly honored to be a recipient of this scholarship as I know so many students have worked hard for this opportunity,” Wurtinger said. “The A to Z program introduced me to this incredible field, and to receive recognition for my hard work is so rewarding. The generosity of Stenograph with this scholarship gives me the encouragement and determination to continue on this journey toward graduation.”

This scholarship is offered through the National Court Reporters Foundation.

“Stenograph is proud to sponsor this scholarship, and we are thrilled to have it go to such a deserving student,” said Stenograph Vice President Star Levandowski. “It is clear that Ms. Wurtinger has a bright future ahead. We are excited to see where this wonderful profession will take her!”

To be eligible to apply for the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, applicants had to meet the criteria below:

  • Attend an NCRA-approved court reporting program
  • Have completed an NCRA A to Z ® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program
  • Have received an NCRA A to Z ® Certificate of Completion
  • Have attained an exemplary academic record (3.5 GPA or above)
  • Have passed one skills test writing 80-120 words per minute at the time of submission

“NCRF so appreciates Stenograph’s commitment to the future of the court reporting and captioning professions and the company’s generosity to aid students financially in their journey into this wonderful career,” said Tami Keenan, FAPR, RPR, CPE, Chair of the NCRF Trustees. “NCRF and NCRA are grateful to be able to help honor the memory and legacy of Milton H. Wright through this memorial scholarship. Paying it forward to help others be successful and productive is not only humbling, but it also sets the precedent for others to do the same in the future. Stenograph’s pledge reflects an important virtue that is deeply embraced within the court reporting and captioning community.”

Green River College motivates students with pins

Everyone who has been a court reporting student knows the effort that goes into achieving each new speed level. One school, Green River College in Auburn, Wash., recognizes that effort with pins commemorating each success.

The school has been awarding the pins for about 10 years for theory and each speed level between 40 and 225 wpm.

“The pins are very popular with our students,” said Sidney Weldele-Wallace, CRI, CPE, the program director of the Court Reporting & Captioning program. “They serve as tangible incentives for progressing through speed levels as well as a visual reminder of how far they have progressed, since we recommend pinning/placing them where they see them every day during their class/practice sessions. We do pin recognition during one of our CRSA (Court Reporting Student Association) meetings every fall and spring quarter. They are a ‘badge of honor’ that we enjoy giving to our deserving students to let them know how very proud we are of them!”

Weldele-Wallace said she thinks the idea was from an NCRA Teacher’s Workshop and discussions on retention and motivating students to persist and succeed. 

Some students use the pins on their personal vision boards, Weldele-Wallace said.

“I believe they are effective as a motivational tool and recognition of hard work and commitment on their part,” she said.

NCRA student member Rachel Helm is a student at Green River College and said she finds the pins motivating.

“I joke with my classmates that sometimes the thought of a shiny new pin is the only thing that keeps me going,” Helm said. “We all know how easy it is to get overwhelmed and lose sight of the end goal when we’re in school, so the pins are incredibly valuable to me and my peers, no matter how small a reward they might seem to be.”

Helm has the 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, and 140 wpm pins. She is now testing at 160 wpm in jury charge and literary and 180 wpm in testimony.

“I have them stuck in a cork board above my desk, so I look at them every time I sit down to practice,” Helm said. “We only get a pin when we’ve passed all three categories in that speed, so it’s extra satisfying once they’re in hand. You know you’ve really mastered that speed, through and through.”

Eh to Zed

By Janice Plomp and Joanne McKenzie

After attending an information session introducing the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program at the Las Vegas NCRA Convention & Expo in 2017, we knew it was the perfect tool to ensure we were getting the “right” students into our program. The Captioning and Court Reporting program at the Northern Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta, is about to celebrate its 60th anniversary and has a reputation across North America for being an excellent program with an above-average graduation rate. However, as a publicly funded school, we are always looking for ways to increase our key performance indicators.

In September 2017, we welcomed 26 eager participants to our first NCRA A to Z program. We emphasized to all that it was a “try it before you buy it” opportunity. Our expectations were low as we headed into this unknown territory, but 20 of them completed the program, and many asked if they could do it again, and they did!

NCRA A to Z does everything we hoped it would do: Attract potential applicants, teach the basics of machine shorthand, help participants make informed decisions about their future, and increase awareness about the profession. But that’s not the whole story. Our Canadian court reporting community rallied behind us. Local reporters and captioners volunteered their time to lead a session and share their experience and their enthusiasm for this great profession. As we expanded our program to include synchronous online participants in 2018, others were quick to dust off their old machines and deliver them to out-of-town and out-of-province participants and offer their time as mentors. Our provincial association, the Alberta Shorthand Reporters Association, sponsors snacks each week for the on-site participants.

NCRA President Max Curry, left, with NAIT students. Those who completed the NCRA A to Z are shown raising their hands.

More importantly, our NCRA A to Z participants benefited as well. A sense of community developed between the participants over the six weeks, and those who were accepted into the program had a head start with steno as well as new friendships.

Our fifth NCRA A to Z session began October 28. We have 20 participants registered and a waiting list for our February session. We are increasing the number of sessions for 2020 by adding a third offering to ensure all applicants to our program have an opportunity to attend. Our marketing is primarily through NAIT’s annual Open House event, sharing the flyer through social media, and the NCRA A to Z registration.

It is too early to see any real changes in our graduation rate, but one thing we know for sure: We have a new and exciting way to encourage people to join our profession. Thank you, NCRA, for spearheading this initiative and increasing awareness about court reporting and captioning.

Janice Plomp, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, is a captioner and instructor based in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada, and Joanne McKenzie, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, is a captioner, freelancer, and instructor from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Plomp can be reached at jplomp@shaw.ca. McKenzie can be reached at joannem@nait.ca.

Which job is right for me?

Teresa Russ, CRI

By Teresa Russ, CRI

The wonderful world of court reporting. Way back when, these options to work were not available: freelance as a CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) captioner, deposition reporter, or broadcast captioner. When I started court reporting school in the early 1980s, I only knew about working in court or taking depositions. The latter we most often call “depos,” which most of us students saw as a glamorous career. “Yes! That’s the one I want,” I thought as a 20-something-year-old. However, court is very lucrative as well as depos. So, what will it be?

Court:  Play a major role in the court proceedings; have a set salary along with getting paid for your transcripts; learn more about our judicial system

Depos:  Make your own schedule; work as much as you like; travel to different cities or countries; learn more about our judicial system

CART captioning:  Work in the classroom setting and learn as a college student and not have to take the tests; give back and help the deaf and hard-of-hearing community; make your own schedule

Broadcast captioning: Have the same benefits as CART and your work appears on TV; if you enjoy sports, you get to watch the games and get paid and you get to help the deaf and hard-of-hearing community

Because I love students and teachers, CART became my first love. I captioned biology, automotive, photography, algebra, and many more classes. Many of my colleagues caption for concerts, even funerals and churches. Many CART captioners migrate to broadcast captioning and many do both. What’s even more exciting is that your skill affords you to do all four of the above options.

I started reminiscing about the judicial field while I was working as a CART captioner. I was chatting with a good friend, Katy Jackson, and she said, “Oh, you want to try depos?” She made some phone calls and just like that I started getting job offers from different deposition agencies. Now, how awesome is that?

While you are a student with several choices to choose from, talk to reporters who have worked in different fields of court reporting. Many reporters will be more than happy to discuss their experiences. If you have been in school for a long time or maybe you are graduating soon, take advantage of the opportunities and sit with a professional and weigh your options. Which one fits your personality the most?

CART captioning seemed to fit my personality the most, but now that I have been doing depositions, I see that being part of the judicial system has its rewards as well, as I love meeting the attorneys and just feeling a part of something that will make a difference in someone’s life in helping bring the truth out from using my awesome skill.

Teresa Russ, CRI, lives in Bellflower, Calif., and works as a CART provider at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. She also does freelance depositions with Atkinson-Baker and several other agencies.

From accounting to court reporting in Alabama

Student Savannah Ray started out as an accounting student, but she changed paths to court reporting thanks to encouragement from her mother.

UTS | Can you talk a little about your background? Did you start the program straight out of high school, or did you have another career first?

SR | I’m an Alabama native, and I have lived in Gadsden for more than five years now.  I decided in my senior year of high school I would be going to Gadsden State to earn an accounting degree. I realized very quickly during my first semester that it wasn’t something that would make a fulfilling career for me because I didn’t really have as much interest in it as I thought.

UTS | How did you first get the idea of being a court reporter?

SR | Well, after I decided accounting wasn’t the path I wanted to take, I mentioned to my mom how I felt lost and was unsure of what to do anymore. She had taken the court reporting program for a brief period before and told me it couldn’t hurt to look into it. I did some research and fell in love with the profession. It kind of lit a fire in me and reignited my excitement for college. I started the program in August 2018 and haven’t looked back since!

UTS | What skill sets do you think would be helpful for a court reporter to possess?

SR | Time management and good concentration have been crucial for me through school. Our instructors hold us to the same standard we’ll have in the working world, so you have to learn to manage your workload in a timely manner and to focus on writing and editing for hours at a time if that’s what is needed.

UTS | What kinds of challenges have you faced during your court reporting program?

SR | The biggest challenge for me was accepting that sometimes you’ll fail. In the path to becoming a court reporter, you’re faced with the hard truth that you won’t always be able to pass every speed the first time you take it. Sometimes you’ll get stuck. There were times I’d really beat myself up over that, but that only held me back even more. Now I try to see not passing in a more positive light, it’s an experience I learned from that’ll help me improve in my future work.

UTS | Have you had a mentor help you out while in school? If yes, how has that helped? If no…how could a mentor help you?

SR | Yes, I recently got a mentor! She’s been lovely and very supportive. Any time I post about my progress she always sends me encouragement, and she’s even helped me to be able to go to my first conference this month which I’m really excited about.

 UTS | Where do you see yourself in five years?

SR | My dream job is to become an official so hopefully in five years I’ll have been able to achieve that.

UTS | What is the best advice you’ve been given so far?

SR | My instructor Michelle once told us to remember that this is our own race to run and it’s not about when you cross the finish line, it’s just about getting across it. That’s really motivated me in the moments when I’m feeling stuck because even if it takes time, I’ll get through those rough spots and make it to my finish line.

UTS | If you were to go to a high school career fair to recruit students, what would you say to them about a career in court reporting and captioning?

SR | I’d tell them about how, with a lot of hard work, you’ll be able to have a skill that not a lot of other people can say they have, writing at 225 words per minute with 95 percent accuracy is an amazing thing to be able to do. There’s also a large amount of job opportunities in the field right now with a potential to earn a nice income.

UTS | Where do you see the profession of court reporting and captioning 10 years from now? Do you think technology will help or hurt the profession?

SR | I feel like advances in technology can be a big help to reporters if we put in the time to learn and master it. Students now can do things that years ago weren’t possible. If we can continue to adapt technology to be an aide to us and work to raise awareness about the profession to younger people, our profession can thrive for years to come.

Savannah Ray is a student at Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Ala.

Why I love court reporting: Jamie Booker

Jamie Booker

Jamie Booker, RPR, a freelance reporter in Tacoma, Wash., recently posted the following in the Facebook group Encouraging Court Reporting Students:

Why is court reporting an amazing profession? Maybe you’ll see yourself in my story. I started court reporting school at 20 years old with a one-year-old baby. I had to do something to better our lives, and I’m thankful every day I found court reporting.

I started school full time. While in school, I had two more babies so I finished school part-time at night while working and raising small children. It took me four years to finally finish, but I’m so, so glad I did. It was not easy. I practiced with toddlers at my feet and infants crying and with not nearly enough hours in the day.

I passed my second 225 on a Thursday night, and I was working in court that following Monday as an official. I worked in an extremely busy courthouse in Philadelphia, but they had a great training program for new reporters. Even though Pennsylvania is not a certification state, I got my RPR anyway. Because I was certified, doors I never thought possible opened for me.

After 10 years in Philly, I wanted to try something new. Because I was a court reporter, I could! I quit my job and moved across the country to Tacoma without even looking for a job first. As soon as I had feet on the ground in Washington, there was no shortage of freelance work. It was seamless. I could be brave, try something new, and I had an amazing career that allowed it. Six months later, I was back in court in another official position.

Here I am, more than eight years later. My youngest is turning 18, and I can look to a new chapter. I’m leaving my job as an official and am heading into the freelance arena. I just wasn’t happy in court anymore. And unlike 99 percent of Americans, I will never be stuck where I don’t want to be. With reporting, we have options. We can be brave. We can try new things, and we don’t have to sacrifice an income to do it.

As a student, your sacrifices are now. They are many. They are not fun. School is the hardest part of your whole career. But we have opportunities that will make your friends and families green with envy. STICK IT OUT! Your pain now will be so much gain later.

Deadline nears for new Stenograph student scholarship

The deadline for nominations for Stenograph’s Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, a new scholarship that honors the memory of Milton H. Wright, Stenograph’s founder, is Feb. 14. The scholarship is being supported by Stenograph and offered through the National Court Reporters Foundation. Students from NCRA-approved reporter education programs are encouraged to apply for the merit-based two-year award, which is worth up to $5,000 per year and will include use of a student writer and software.

“Stenograph is proud to sponsor the newly created Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship,” said Stenograph President Anir Dutta. “We believe that by investing in our students and future students, through the NCRA’s A to Z Program, that we will positively impact the direction of this industry. It is an honor to be able to give back in this way.” 

This scholarship is offered through the National Court Reporters Foundation. Students must meet the eligibility requirements and submit the completed documentation listed below to qualify for the scholarship. Notification of the MHW Memorial Scholarship is sent each November to all NCRA-approved court reporting programs.

Applications are being accepted through Feb. 14, 2020. 

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, students must meet the criteria below: 

  • Attend an NCRA-approved court reporting program
  • Have completed an NCRA A to Z ® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program
  • Have received an NCRA A to Z ® Certificate of Completion
  • Have attained an exemplary academic record (3.5 GPA or above)
  • Have passed one skills test writing 80-120 words per minute at the time of submission 

Document requirements

The following documents are required to be submitted for application:

  • Speed verification form
  • A copy of the student’s most recent transcript
  • A two-page, double-spaced essay responding to the following question: “Describe the role of technology in the future of reporting.”

Click here for more information or to access the application for the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship.

“Stenograph’s commitment to the future of the court reporting and captioning professions is reflected in the company’s generous support of the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, and NCRF and NCRA are honored to share this common goal with them,” said NCRA Senior Director of Education and Certification Cynthia Bruce Andrews.  

For more information on the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, please contact the NCRA Education Department at schools@ncra.org

New Professional Profile: Bethany Glover

Bethany Glover

By Mike Hensley

Bethany Glover, RPR, is a new professional residing in Long Beach, Calif.  Not only is she new — within her first year of work as a freelance deposition reporter — she finished school in a blazing 16 months. She is excellently poised to take the world by storm, and she has graciously shared insights with us as a newly licensed court reporter.

JCR | Why did you choose to become a court reporter?

BG | I grew up dancing, moved to New York City to earn my bachelor’s in dance at a prestigious school, traveled the world performing as a professional dancer, and had to cut short my dancing career early due to a back injury. I wanted a career that would still give me the freedom to travel while also earning a good living. I also loved how crucial court reporting is for getting a record of people‘s experiences and for the judicial system as a whole.

JCR | What’s your “can’t live without” item in your steno bag?

BG | Definitely back-up USB flash drives. I always, always back everything up, because you just never know when technology is going to be cranky.

JCR | What is your biggest challenge as a new reporter?

BG | My biggest challenge as a new reporter is learning how to have a good work/life balance. I really love what I do, so I tend to get lost in my work. I’m trying to learn to step back and take time to do things for myself outside of work too. Self-care is crucial!

JCR | What is your next goal? What is a long-term goal?

BG | My next goal is working on realtime. I’m learning that the cleaner that I write while on the job, the less work I have to do editing. I want to be writing realtime as soon as I can.

A long-term goal of mine is to be able to take depositions internationally. I would love to travel for work. That’s the dream.

JCR | What do you like to do when you’re not reporting?

BG | When I’m not reporting, I love to take yoga classes and explore new neighborhoods. I really enjoy being outside and walking. I also want to get into doing volunteer work with animals.

JCR | What do you love about your career?

BG | I absolutely love meeting new people and going to new offices every day. It’s always something different, and there are no two days the same.

JCR | How has involvement with state and national associations benefited your career thus far?

BG | Being involved with associations has been so important for me on my journey to becoming a court reporter. I have met wonderful reporters through the associations who have supported me, cheered me on, and have been there for me for every question that I have. The court reporting community is like no other, and the reporters I have met through associations inspire me every day.

JCR | What was the best piece of advice that you received from another court reporter that helped you?

BG | The best piece of advice I ever received from another court reporter is to be confident in my skills and to not be afraid of taking charge. Being a new reporter can be a little intimidating sometimes, but you just need to walk in with a smile on your face and your head held high.

Mike Hensley, RDR, is a freelancer from Dublin, Calif. He can be reached at stenomph@gmail.com.

Naegeli announces new scholarship

Naegeli Deposition & Trial has announced a new scholarship to inspire creativity and assist student leaders with self-development.

Read more.

New Professional Profile: Sara Galante

Sara Galante

By Ashley Stahl

Sara Galante attended the Long Island Business Institute.  She reports freelance and per diem court proceedings in New York and has been working for a little under two years.  She talks to us about what life was like in school and her transition to professional reporting.

JCR | Tell me a little bit about yourself and what brought you to the field of court reporting.

SG | I’ve been officially working for a little under two years. I’m a fur-mama to four pups and live in New York, specifically Long Island.  My father is actually a court reporter, and he’s the one I have to thank for introducing me to this wonderful career!  He began school when I was a kid, and I remember playing with his old machine and paper and was always intrigued.  I’ve always liked English, and I’ve always been a fly-on-the-wall kind of girl, so this career is perfect for me. 

JCR | What was your practice routine like as a student?

SG | When I was still working 40-hour weeks, I would practice before work about an hour and then another one to two hours when I got home.  I used my time wisely at work by bringing my notes in and transcribing whenever I had the opportunity.  Lots of long nights and not many social events, but it was all worth it!

JCR | What was the hardest part of transitioning from school to the real world?

SG | This is a tough question!  I guess for me the hardest part was making myself seem like a seasoned professional in the very beginning.  I never wanted anyone to think I was new or lacked experience.  I’ve always had a “fake it till you make it” motto, and this was no different.

JCR | How did you feel before and after your first assignment as a court reporter?

SG | Before, I was VERY nervous.  I wrote down the oath and other notes on sticky notes and made sure I had easy access to them throughout the first deposition.  When the attorneys asked me to read back, I thought I was going to be sick.  After I nailed the first three requests for read back, my confidence soared, and I left that job on cloud nine!  It’s been (mostly) smooth sailing since then!

JCR | What do you love about your career?

SG | The flexibility and the opportunity to learn something new every day!  I get bored easily, but there’s no time for that with this line of work. 

JCR | Do you have any advice for students?

SG | Work hard.  Practice!  Don’t hesitate to ask for help.  Know that you can do this, and that it will be 100 percent worth it.  I promise.

JCR | Do you have any hobbies outside of work?

SG | Aside from hanging out with my four pups, I love to travel, hike, read, and watch movies.