Court reporting a good fit for farming family

My name is Andrea Franje. I am 31 years old, and I have been married to my husband, Eric, for eight years. We have three beautiful little girls: Blakely, 7; Charlie, 6; and Gracie, 4. We live in New Sharon, Iowa, which is also where we grew up. We love raising our girls in a small-town atmosphere. Eric is a full-time farmer, so we are right in the middle of harvest. He works on his family farm, and we also have a small cattle operation of our own.

UTS | What got you interested in the program and what brought you to Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC)?          

AF | I styled hair for 12 years, and I loved it. With my husband being a farmer, it is not uncommon for him to be out late at night. Once my oldest daughter got into preschool, we realized very fast that my late-night schedule was not going to work. I was going to need to find another job.

My court reporter friend, Brook Blackwell, RPR, CRR, had been posting on Facebook about court reporting jobs. I was able to go sit in on some hearings with Brook one Thursday afternoon, and I was intrigued with her job. I wanted to learn more about it. That following Saturday they were having an information meeting at DMACC. After that, I knew it was something I needed to pray about. I felt very compelled to apply. Thankfully, I was accepted.

UTS | What has been the most challenging part of getting through school, and what are you doing to overcome it?

AF | I think the most challenging part of school so far has been balancing my life. I never want anything to come before my family. I do not want any of them to feel like I am giving more of myself to my schooling than I am to them. This program really does require a lot of your attention, though. I always try to do everything with 100 percent effort. 

I had to resign from some extracurricular boards. I knew I was going to have to take some things off my plate if this program was going to be doable for me. I try very hard to be focused on whatever I am doing at the moment. If I am in wife mode, I want to be giving that my all. If I am in mom mode or school mode or church mode or friend mode, I want to be sure I am giving it my all. I have found myself figuring out a new definition for living in the present. 

UTS | What has been the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

AF | This question has been the hardest to answer because I have received so much great advice. I would say that there are a couple of things that stick out to me.

One: If this was easy, everyone would do it. Court reporting is such a small community of people that you inevitably feel like family even if you don’t know them well. You are able to connect with them in a way that you cannot connect with anyone else. I think that is such a cool thing. It is like the secret language you used to have with your friends when you were little, except now we are all adults. 

Two: You will fail in this program more times than you will succeed. This program is unlike any other program. Once you have passed a test, it is almost like you are back at square one. You don’t get to relish in the moment of passing very long before you are hit with a higher speed you need to tackle. I try to keep this in the back of my mind when I do not pass a test.  It can be discouraging at times to feel like you are hitting a wall constantly, but that moment when you do pass, it is so exhilarating!

UTS | What do you like to spend your free time doing?

AF | We love doing anything as a family. We installed two ponds in our pasture a few years ago, and we love to go out there with the girls to fish. We stocked it up really well, so they cast out and catch a fish right away. We also love to sing. My husband and I are on the worship team at my church, so our girls see us musically involved there all the time. My husband will sit down at the piano at night, and we all just sing whatever song he decides to play. Those are the moments that I know I will miss when my girls are all grown up.

UTS | Have any plans for when you finish school? What is your dream job?

AF | I would love to become an official reporter. With my family, I love the hours, benefits, and pay. I would love to work in District 8 when I graduate. It would be wonderful to be working in the district in which I live. I have been lucky enough to get to know some of the reporters in this district, and they are all wonderful. They have reached out and helped me through so much already. I am looking forward to the day that I can call them my colleagues.

 Angela Franje is a student at Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa.

NCRF announces 2020 New Professional Reporter Grant recipients

Two awardees named for the first time in grant’s 16-year history

By Jill Parker Landsman

The National Court Reporters Foundation announced two recipients for the 2020 New Professional Reporter Grant.

“Since our former Frank Sarli and Robert H. Clark scholarships ended in 2019, we decided to award a first- and second-place recipient for this grant this year,” said NCRF Chair Cathy Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS, an official court reporter from Collierville, Tenn. “Each winner was selected after displaying remarkable focus on academics as well as dedication to the court reporting industries. Their letters of recommendation played a strong role in their selections.”

First-place winner, Erin Johnson of Carthage, Ill., was awarded $2,000. She is grateful about the day in high school when she had her epiphany about becoming a court reporter.

“My interest in court reporting came when I was fortunate enough to job shadow another court reporter while I was in high school,” Johnson said. “From that day forward, I knew this was the career for me. I entered court reporting for many reasons, but one of the primary reasons was my love for the English language as well as my desire to work in the judicial system. One reason that I am passionate about court reporting is that I can contribute to the judicial system firsthand by taking down an accurate, verbatim record,” she added.

“I have always been excited about my career, and I know how important it is for the judicial system to have qualified stenographic reporters,” Johnson said. “We are responsible for the recordkeeping of very serious matters. Additionally, I enjoy learning about the law and how it applies to each case. Court reporting offers such a variety of subject matter that it makes the job so interesting. The friendships I have developed with the judges, attorneys, and staff are outstanding. I have been so blessed with the people that I have met and the support that I have had.  I can’t wait to see what the career of court reporting holds for me.”

For the first time since 2005, NCRF selected a second winner, Laura Tello of Houston, Texas, who was awarded $1,000.

Tello passed her court reporting state test in Dallas, Texas, on June 22, 2019. Her mother died just three days before, but she mustered up tenacity and focus to complete her credentials. Due to adverse audio during testing, only 13 out of 50 examinees passed; she was one.

Tello’s training had starts and stops. “I can’t tell you the amount of times I just wanted to throw that machine out of my moving car every time I left school without passing Alvin Community College’s [Alvin, Texas] hard test,” she said. “That machine was like a third child, always stuck to me wherever I went. During my studies, things in my life got harder to deal with, be it money, ailing parents, the kids, and other stuff that interfered with taking classes. So my court reporter training was an off-and-on-again relationship for the rest of the years that followed,” Tello added. 

“I think, if anything, my court reporter education shows that, although I may not be a spring chicken anymore, I fought long and hard for this career to define me as a person interested in bettering myself. I appreciate feeling needed in this profession, and I enjoy it tremendously. The scholarship means that I have been validated for my long hard fight to get to where I am at today, and for that I am truly grateful! Thank you for this scholarship. I love my job! Love what you do and do what you love is a quote I read from a veteran court reporter whom I shadowed. She is truly an inspiration to me. A writer like that is what I continue to aspire to become one day,” Tello said.

For information about this NCRF New Professional Reporter Grant, click here.

Jill Parker Landsman, is manager of the National Court Reporters Foundation. She can be reached at jlandsman@ncra.org.

Winners of 2020 CASE Scholarships announced

NCRA is pleased to announce the five winners of the 2020 CASE (Council on Approved Student Education) Student Scholarships. Winners are chosen based on a weighted combination of speed, GPA, recommendations, and a written essay. This year’s essay question was, “What do you think makes you good at writing steno, and what skill sets do you possess that you believe will help you build your career as a court reporter?”

Lisa Johnson

This year the top scholarship prize of $1,500 went to Lisa Johnson, a student at Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. “The scholarship award means a great deal to me,” Johnson told Up-to-Speed. “It is wonderful to be a part of a community filled with encouraging, supportive, and intelligent individuals who strive to keep the profession strong and full of integrity.”

In her essay, Johnson credits her father, a carpenter, for instilling in her the drive needed to excel in her career. “He provided for the family, quite literally, with his bare hands. It is my goal to also provide for my family with my hands, capturing the spoken word through stenography,” she added.

Greta Pederson

Greta Pederson, a student at Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wisc., earned the second prize of $1,000. Pedersen played violin as a child and she wrote in her essay about being an auditory, rather than a visual learner. Stenography, she wrote, relies on ear/hand coordination instead of eye/hand coordination. “I am honored to be a recipient of the CASE Scholarship,” Pederson told Up-to-Speed. “I am grateful for the extra financial support to help me achieve my educational goals.”

Stephanie Oldeck

The third prize of $750 went to Stephanie Oldeck, a student at the College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind. “Being awarded the NCRA 2020 CASE Student Scholarship means that I can continue my education without worrying about incurring more student debt,” Oldeck said.  “I am honored to be an award recipient, and it gives me a motivational boost to work harder and perform to (and exceed) the best of my abilities to continue to be worthy of this scholarship.” Oldeck wrote in her essay that winning the scholarship is a sign that court reporting is the career she was always supposed to choose. 

Emily Deutsch

Recipient of the $500 scholarship was Emily Deutsch, a student at Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn. Deutsch, a graduate of NCRA’s A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program, is an active participant in both her state association and NCRA. “Not only is this scholarship a significant morale booster for me at this time,” she said, “but it has lifted the financial strain so that I can continue to push toward graduation. Because of the generous support of NCRA, Stenograph, and our instructors and mentors, students like me across the nation cannot wait to graduate and see where this awesome profession takes us.”

A student at MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill., Jessica Shines is the recipient of the $250 scholarship. As she explained in her essay, stenography is her “third language” (after English and Spanish).

Jessica Shines

“When I learned that I won this scholarship, I felt honored. For people who don’t know me to invest in my education felt like a vote of confidence, and it affirmed for me that I chose the right career,” Shines said. “I’ve never met a group of professionals who were so focused on sharing their love of their career with the next generation. I look forward to doing the same for another up-and-coming stenographer when it’s my turn!”

Each year, CASE awards five scholarships to students who attend an NCRA-approved court reporting program. To be eligible to apply, students must also hold a student membership in NCRA, have attained an exemplary academic record, and passed one skills test writing at between 140 and 180 words per minute. Students are also required to submit a speed verification form, three recommendation forms, a copy of their most recent transcript, and an essay in response to a topic chosen by members of CASE.

For more information about the CASE Scholarships, contact Ellen Goff, NCRA Assistant Director, Professional Development at egoff@ncra.org, or visit NCRA.org.

New Professional Profile: Douglas Armstrong

By Lauren Lawrence

Douglas Armstrong, RPR

Douglas Armstrong, RPR, is a freelance court reporter in Seattle, Wash. He is a 2018 graduate of the Green River College court reporting program and is the current chair of the school’s Court Reporting and Captioning Advisory Committee. He loves opera and animals and spends way too much time thinking about Academy Awards trivia. 

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

DA | When my job of managing 200 employees in a pair of hair salons was eliminated without notice or ceremony after seven years, I didn’t know what I’d do next. I happened to read an article about the need for court reporters and the connection many reporters had to playing musical instruments, particularly piano, which I had played my whole life. I was a music major the first time I went to college. I contacted Green River College, met with the wonderful Lori Rapozo and Sidney Weldele-Wallace who sold me on the profession, and was enrolled within days. The rest is history.

JCR | Do you have any advice for reporting students?

DA | Hang on and then keep hanging on. Quitting is not an option. You can always switch to decaf after you graduate. Failed tests do not mean that you’re not getting better all the time. Start and end each practice session with something you know you’re good at. Associate with students and reporters who love what they’re doing and want to succeed; stay away from those who complain, make excuses, or demotivate others. Practice sometimes with distractions, like a rock band in the background (it happens in the real world) or writing to material where the speaker is yelling or crying (it definitely happens). Approach adversity as an opportunity to improve yourself and your skills and not something to fear. Picture yourself laughing a few years from now at what scares you now. When you think you’ve practiced enough, practice more.

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

DA | I use public transportation whenever possible and deliberately travel as light as possible. I carry a briefcase-style bag with my Luminex and a backpack holding my lightweight Lenovo ThinkPad and only the essential accessories. A constantly replenished stash of protein bars and vegan jerky have definitely proven to be lifesavers on jobs that go straight through lunch.

JCR | What was life like as a student?

DA | I started school at age 33 and had to work full-time. I managed all aspects of a small, though very busy, vegan grocery store by day and did my online classes, homework, and practice by night. It was by far the most productive period of my life and also the most satisfying. I told myself often that the time would be passing anyway and that the hard work I was putting in was a gift I was able to give my future self. I was right, and there hasn’t been a day since where I haven’t felt immense gratitude for the opportunities opened to me by those years of effort.

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

DA | Finding and defining my own voice as a reporter was an unexpected challenge. There’s the voice on paper, of making formatting, grammatical, and punctuation decisions where there seem to be as many options as there are reporters. There’s the voice in the deposition, learning to coolly and confidently interact with attorneys and experts to get what I need to do my job with minimal disruption to theirs. There’s the voice as a businessperson, advocating for myself in finding answers to unexpected questions on everything from taxes to software functionality. I’ve definitely found that what is the preferred solution for others doesn’t necessarily have to be the best answer for me, and that’s OK. I’m a perfectionist and I like absolutes, but I have had to learn to be comfortable with ambiguity and flexibility.

JCR | What’s the coolest experience you have had working in the profession?

DA | I’ve been a guest speaker a few times at the law school of a local university on panels where I was the only reporter among several attorneys. Surprisingly, I got the majority of the student questions from folks who were fascinated by our profession and how we work our magic. I also got the chance every reporter dreams of, to tell a room full of future lawyers the dos and don’ts of a great record from our perspective, like thinking a question all the way through before starting and stopping seven times midsentence or not interjecting an “OK” after every three words of a deponent’s answer.

JCR | What do you love about your career?

DA | I love meeting new people every day and hearing about careers, processes, lifestyles, and experiences I might not otherwise be exposed to. I love writing new voices and unfamiliar terms and phrases, as well as the daily challenge of adapting to and anticipating the unique patterns and rhythms of each job. I love watching smart people argue and not having to choose a side. I love working in a prison one day and a surgeon’s office the next. I love the flexibility of a freelance schedule and the editing time at home with my dog and cat. I love the way processing words through my fingers on a funny little machine tickles my brain and that I get paid for that.

JCR | If you weren’t a court reporter, what career would you be interested in pursuing?

DA | I’ve always felt I’d make an excellent monarch. If the opportunity ever comes along, I’ll consider it. Until then, I’ll keep reporting.

Lauren Lawrence, RPR, is from Kansas City, Mo.

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.