Local college launching court reporter program in response to growing shortage

NCRA members Jennifer Dunn, RPR, an official court reporter from Creve Coeur, Mo., and Cindy Taylor, a freelance court reporter from St. Charles, Mo., are featured in a story aired by KMOV Channel 4 on July 30 about the launch of a new court reporting program at St. Charles Community College in response to the nationwide growing shortage of professionals.

Read more.

NCRA announces first A to Z Scholarship recipients

Winners of the first NCRA A to Z™  Scholarships have been announced. The recipients are students that have completed an NCRA A to Z ™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program and are enrolled in a court reporting program. Scholarships in the amount of $500 have been awarded to the following students:

  • Stacie Cain, a student at the College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind.;
  • Tonya L. Cross-Casado of San Antonio College;
  • Jennie Dunlap, a student at Hardeman School of Court Reporting and Captioning in Tampa, Fla.;
  • Camryn Dunne, a student at Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa.;
  • Alicia Floerchinger, a student at Alfred State College in Alfred, N.Y. “I took the NCRA A-Z program in hopes to get a feel for the machine before starting school. Not only was I able to experience that, but the A-Z program taught me key combinations, along with how to write the alphabet on the steno machine. Having this knowledge made me feel confident in my first semester of court reporting. The A-Z program was the greatest opportunity I had before pursuing my career in court reporting.”
  • Marie Forman, a student at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. “After years of working retail, I wanted a change, but wasn’t sure what career would be right for me. At the NAIT open house, I was intrigued by captioning and court reporting, but still knew very little about them. It was the NCRA A to Z program that really got me interested in pursuing stenography further, and it also helped me keep up with the first few weeks of a very fast-paced college course.”
  • Jennifer Gale, a student at Community College of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Pa.;
  • Jana Oelbaum, a student at Long Island Business Institute, Commack, N.Y. “I can’t speak highly enough about the NCRA A to Z program, and I recommend it to anyone who is curious about the court reporting profession.   Not only was the material presented in clear and organized lessons, but we also got to hear from working professionals and ask questions of them during live web seminars.  I am certain that my participation and completion of this course put me at a great advantage once I enrolled in my first theory class at school.   I was already familiar with the steno machine, the steno alphabet, and how to write basic words which those letters and keystrokes make.”;
  • Diego Ramirez, a student at San Antonio College, San Antonio, Texas. ““The A-Z Program was a wonderful introduction into the professional world of court reporting for me.”; and
  • Karlye Walton, a student at Des Moines Community College, Newton, Iowa. “”Nothing could have prepared me or helped solidify my decision more than participating in the A to Z program. I strongly encourage anybody interested in this career path to participate in this class beforehand!”

To be eligible to apply for the NCRA A to Z™ Scholarship, students must meet the criteria below: 

  • 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;
  • Have passed one skills test writing 60-100 words per minute at the time of submission.

For more information on the NCRA A to Z™ Scholarship, please contact the Education Department at schools@ncra.org

Switching schools, switching careers

Zeke Alicea

Nineteen-year-old Zeke Alicea had a plan for his future that included a four-year degree. He was interested in the legal field, but nothing really clicked until a criminology professor discussed the role of court reporters. Alicea decided to turn in his $50,000/year tuition for a court reporting degree at community college.

UTS | You started your education at Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Wis.,  and then transferred to MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill. Why did you make the switch?

ZA | At Marquette, I was majoring in Clinical Laboratory Science. However, as I went through my first semester, I started to lose interest and look into other majors. I especially had a great interest in criminology. I was thinking I could be a lawyer, detective, forensic scientist, or even a criminologist. One day during one of my criminology lectures, my professor was telling us all the positions in the courtroom. One of them was obviously the court reporter. She told my class how it’s a profitable career and shared some of the skills required for being a court reporter. That was the first time I had ever heard of court reporting, and it immediately piqued my interest. I also noticed that people who are gamers or musicians have a tendency to do well in court reporting school.

Another reason was that I wanted to be back home with my family. Being at Marquette made me miss a lot of my close friends and family, and I like the control that I feel I have at home rather than living in a dorm. I also love being in Chicago since it’s an environment I’ve lived in all my life. Lastly, I made the switch because of the tuition at Marquette. The tuition was around $50,000. Of course, scholarships reduced the cost, but the tuition was still very high. The tuition at MacCormac is comparable to the tuition of a community college in Chicago. It’s very inexpensive at MacCormac, and now I don’t need to worry about finances while in school. 

UTS | Have you met any court reporters or captioners? What have you learned from them?

ZA | I’ve met quite a handful ever since I started school at MacCormac. The nice thing about court reporting is that it’s extremely easy to make connections since there are so few of us. I’ve met higher speed students, working court reporters, and even court reporters who have their own firms. From all the court reporters I have met, I firmly believe that just about anyone can pursue a career in court reporting as long as you have a strong determination. 

UTS |What has surprised you most about learning steno?

ZA | I think it’s really interesting that there are so many different theories for steno. Before I enrolled at MacCormac, I thought that every court reporter wrote shorthand the same way. I quickly learned that was not the case. I know that a lot of older theories would have you stroke out words phonetically, but a lot of the newer theories teach many neat briefs for those multisyllabic words. Another thing I like about steno is sharing my briefs and phrases with higher speed students who have learned a different theory. Occasionally, they will actually like my suggestions and incorporate those briefs in their dictionary. Lastly, I love how individualized it is when it comes to learning steno. One thing I noticed is not everybody strokes things the same way. One of my friends in class uses the “*F” for words that have a “V” in them while I use “-FB.” Furthermore, once you start becoming more settled with your theory, you can even start making up your own briefs and phrases. 

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

ZA | The best advice I have been given is to start building your dictionary as soon as you can. Something about knowing that everything you stroke is going to translate on your real-time software really makes me feel reassured. There are also times when I’ll have a test, and just about everything translates. It’s a really exciting feeling, and it really builds up your confidence in your writing. Another great piece of advice I heard is to look at the person who is speaking when reporting. This might just be more of a personal preference, but I feel more focused when I’m watching the person who’s speaking. 

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? 

ZA | I would tell them that it’s in high demand and that there’s practically 100 percent job availability when you graduate. I would tell them you only need a two-year degree to be a court reporter and that there’s a high earning potential. Their age is the perfect time to get into court reporting since our minds are still developing, so we’re able to absorb information easily. (That will be very handy when learning the ridiculous amounts of phrases and briefs.) I would tell them that having a background in music or video games can help, and even if you’re not into either of those, you can still do well in this field. And lastly, I would tell them how much a fun career in court reporting is. Every day when I’m court reporting, I’m always learning something new, and I always get to hear interesting court stories.

UTS | What is your dream job? Where do you see yourself in five  years?

ZA | My dream job would be, well, a court reporter! I definitely would like to have the opportunity as a court reporter to provide captions for a Cubs game! In five years, I will be with a court reporting firm and downtown (I’m not that into the whole freelance reporting gig), and I would also like to be participating in speed competitions at that time. I would also want to be known as a trustworthy and distinguished court reporter who is very passionate about his job.

MacCormac College’s court reporting program was recently featured on Chicago Tonight, a local PBS program. Watch the news story and a television interview with Alicea here.

PohlmanUSA Offering Free Six-Week Court Reporting Introductory Course

In a press release issued July 17, PohlmanUSA, based in St. Louis, Mo., announced that the firm will be holding an NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program to help potential students to learn more about court reporting and gain the necessary skills to succeed in the profession.

Read more.

Court reporting program open house coming to Oak Forest

Patch.com reported on July 11 that the South Suburban College (SSC), Oak Forest, Ill., is hosting a court reporting open house on July 25 to showcase the profession and the school’s program.

Read more.

School counselors see court reporting in action

NCRA staff connected with school counselors at their annual convention recently to spread the word about the court reporting and captioning professions.

The American School Counselor Association met in Boston, and Cynthia Bruce Andrews, NCRA Senior Director of Education and Certification, attended, along with Content Manager Heidi Renner.

“Attending the American School Counselors Convention continues to be a great event to get the word out about court reporting and the shortage,” Andrews said. “It is especially nice to have counselors who receive our newsletter compliment us on its content. It’s great to get that type of feedback; it demonstrates that we are making inroads with this group.”

NCRA members from the Boston area volunteered to demonstrate steno writing and talk about what they do with the counselors.

NCRA member Joan Cassidy demonstrates while NCRA Senior Director Cynthia Bruce Andrews speaks to school counselors.

“It was such a great experience,” said Joan Cassidy, RMR, CRR, a freelancer from Norfolk, Mass. “I loved explaining what we do to others, unraveling the ‘magic’ they think we court reporters make. Hopefully school guidance counselors from all over the country will in turn inspire and inform their students about this great profession of ours.  Additionally, it was wonderful to be able to give back to a profession that has been so generous to me and my family.”

Comments heard most often from school counselors included:

“I didn’t even know about this career!”
“My students really need to know about jobs like this.”
“Can I have a court reporter come to my school?”
“Is it too late for me to be a court reporter?”

NCRA member Kathy Silva in the booth with Andrews and a school counselor.

“Getting the word out to educators and school administrators is essential for the future of our profession,” said Kathy Silva, RPR, CRR, an official in Andover, Mass., who volunteered in the NCRA booth. “Because of this effort, I am certain school counselors will keep court reporting and captioning in mind when discussing possible careers with students.”

Justina Pettinelli, RDR, CRR, a freelancer from Quincy, Mass., also volunteered.

NCRA member Justina Pettinelli volunteered in the NCRA booth.

“It was such a pleasure to participate in the American School Counselor Association Conference with NCRA,” Pettinelli said. “The NCRA reps did a wonderful job educating everyone about court reporting, a profession that is largely unknown/unfamiliar to the general public. Everyone was both intrigued and impressed with seeing realtime in action with the steno machine, and they responded very favorably to the information provided to them about the profession. Attendance at these conferences is crucial in spreading the word to people who have the ability to reach thousands of children who will be our profession’s future, and I’d like to thank NCRA for participating and working so hard on our behalf.” 

NCRA member Teri Gibson.

Teri C. Gibson, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, a freelancer and CART captioner from Chelsea, Mass., also volunteered.

3 Reasons why you should consider court reporting as a career

Education News posted an article on June 26 citing the reasons why someone should consider a career in court reporting.

Read more.

Bloomfield College announces certificate programs in court reporting

Bloomfield College, Bloomfield, N.J., announced on June 10 that it will begin offering two certificate programs in court reporting starting in the fall of 2019. Admission to the program is contingent upon successful completion of NCRA’s  A to ZTM Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program.

Read more.

DMACC Court Reporting Career Fair

What started out as a request for students to visit District 7 turned into a full-blown court reporting career fair! It all started a year ago when Jeanne Jacobs and Karla Lester, RMR, CRR, members of the Iowa Court Reporters Association (ICRA), invited us to bring the court reporting students to their district so they could show them what a great place it is to work.

That seemed like a great idea and something the students would enjoy. But we realized that other folks would probably request that we visit their districts as well. I could see us traveling in a school bus all over the state. Oh, but we’ve got classes to teach and tests to pass.

After visiting with ICRA President Rachel Waterhouse, RPR, we decided that a career fair might be a good solution. The event was originally scheduled in February during Court Reporting & Captioning Week but was canceled because of bad weather.

On April 2, six court reporters, one district court administrator, two judges, four freelance firm owners, and the interim director of human resources for the Iowa Judicial Branch came to the Newton campus of the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), Des Moines, Iowa. The top speed students talked with employers first; then the middle speed students; and finally, the theory students. 

Following the fair, employers and DMACC administration and faculty members participated in a roundtable discussion on strategies for recruiting students and building the college’s court reporting program.

Theory students reported feeling a little nervous, even intimidated, at first. However, they all had great comments about how much they learned and how friendly everyone was. Following are sample comments from theory students:

  • My favorite part was that every single court reporter loves their job.
  • I truly appreciated the openness and friendliness of everyone wanting to see all of us succeed.
  • I believe that only good can come out of it. I was intimidated at first, but the conversation was easy and natural.
  • This was a great opportunity for us to feel a more confident in the profession.
  • I feel a little more connected in the court reporting community.
  • It helped me see the “light at the end of the tunnel.”
  • I think it is a great idea to repeat this event annually. It benefits both employers and students.  Employers get to “sell” their firm or district and students get to see all of the options they have.
  • Please have this event annually. I wanted to stay at every table longer!

Second-year students offered these comments:

  • One thing I really appreciated was that all employers, whether freelance or official, asked me what route I was interested in taking. They were all kind and gracious regardless of whether or not I was considering their area or method of reporting. The overall atmosphere of the job fair was one of enthusiasm and excitement for the new reporters who will be working all throughout Iowa. I feel very fortunate to have been educated in this state filled with professional and welcoming reporters.
  • All of the interactions I had with different employers were extremely positive and very encouraging. I am anxious to begin the job application process and to see what the future holds. I am confident that whatever path I choose will include seasoned and accomplished reporters willing to help me along the way.
  • All in all, the experience was nothing short of amazing and much needed for everyone.
  • I think every table offered the opportunity that if I ever wanted to sit in and shadow for a day, that I am more than welcome to. Everyone was so thoughtful and encouraging. It was great to feel like a professional that day, and I hope DMACC continues to provide this opportunity in the future.
  • I honestly don’t think the day could have gone any better. I really enjoyed talking to everyone. I will keep an open mind, as I get closer to graduation, to both freelancing and official, because both offer great job opportunities.
  • Everyone I spoke to was nice, and it sounds like there are many wonderful places I can work in the future. I am excited to see where I will end up.

Thank you to all of the employers listed below:

District 5:                    Chelsey Wheeler, RPR, official court reporter

District 6:                    Sarah Hyatt, RPR, official court reporter and the Hon. Judge Lars Anderson

District 7:                    Karla Lester, RMR, CRR, freelance court reporter

Jeanne Jacobs, court reporter

District 8:                    Kailey Booten, court reporter

                                    Kari Diggins, RPR, official court reporter

                                    Heidi Baker, district court administrator

                                    The Hon. Judge Mary Ann Brown

Iowa Judicial District: Jessica Holmes, interim director of human resources

Sarah Dittmer, RPR, freelance court reporter

Susan Frye, RPR, freelance court reporter and owner of Susan Frye Court Reporting

Andrea Kreutz, CLVS, and owner of Huney-Vaughn Reporting

Sean Sweeney, owner of Sweeney Court Reporting

Congratulations to the Student Speed Contest Winners

Madalyn Massey
Kelly Madden
Rachel Marr

Schools across the country once again participated in this year’s NCRA student speed contest. The contest was held in celebration of 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week and gave students the chance to test their speed skills on Literary and Q&A tests. Madalyn Massey, of Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa, was awarded first prize. Kelly Madden, of Atlantic Technical Center in Coconut Creek, Fla., was awarded second prize, and Rachel Marr of the Hardeman School of Court Reporting and Captioning, Tampa, Fla., was awarded third prize.

“I first got interested in the Realtime Reporting program because of a family friend, who is now my wonderful mentor,” said Massey. “It also became a huge motivation for me to get a job where I would be sitting due to an ankle injury I received in high school. I really need a job where I am stationary, and I became even more interested in the career field after seeing firsthand the dedication, professionalism, and passion involved in the court reporting field.”

Massey is set to graduate in December.

Second place winner Madden is returning to court reporting after an 18-year hiatus. A graduate of Sheridan Vocational Technical Institute, Hollywood, Fla., she is back at Atlantic Technical to hone her skills and get to back to the career she loved so much.

Marr is a mother of three who got into court reporting by chance. “I had to leave my radiology program when I was pregnant and while I was on my leave, I talked to an attorney who said that if she had a chance to do it all over again, she would be a court reporter. That piqued my interest, so I started looking into what exactly that detailed [in terms of] school, money, certifications etc.” 

The Mardi Gras-themed contest, sponsored by NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee, was open to students in any court reporting program, at any speed level. Ninety-three students from 10 schools took the tests. One Literary and one Q&A test were given, and each consisted of five minutes of dictation at a speed that each student was either currently working on or had just passed.

In order to be eligible to win a prize, students must have passed the test with at least 96 percent accuracy. The tests, written by Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, CRC, a member of NCRA’s Student/Teacher Committee, were designed so that the speed could be adjusted to fit the student’s speed.

A total of 25 students passed at least one test. Three of those who passed were chosen at random to receive the winners’ beads. As the gold bead, or first prize winner, Massey received an RPR Study Guide ($125 value). Madden, the purple bead, or second prize winner, was awarded the choice of a one-year NCRA student membership ($46 value) or one complimentary leg of the RPR Skills Test ($72.50 value). The winner of the green beads, Marr, won a $25 Starbucks gift card.

Many thanks to Kriegshauser for her hard work writing the speed tests and preparing the other testing materials. The contest would not have been possible without her.

NCRA would like to showcase the hard work that students and schools are doing to promote the court reporting and captioning professions. Below are the names of all the students who participated in this year’s contest. Students marked with an asterisk passed the test with 96 percent accuracy or higher.

Atlantic Technical College

Coconut Creek, Fla.

Kelly Madden*          

Victor Laznik 

Amber King   

Lynn Corbet   

Brown College of Court Reporting

Atlanta, Ga.

Parker Burton

David Gee      

Shirley Johnson          

DeLeon Little

Chris Tomko  

College of Court Reporting

Valparaiso, Ind.

Kerri Huff      

Natasha Wentzel        

Patricia Lopez*          

Des Moines Area Community College

Newton, Iowa

Madelyn Schmidt*    

Madison Rowland     

Madalyn Massey*      

Green River College

Auburn, Wash.

Ashley Dixon*           

Spencer Holesinsky   

Justin Choi     

Sarah Webb   

Mariah Banta*

Alexandra Fleming    

Hardeman School of Court Reporting and Captioning

Tampa, Fla.

Michele Buono*

Rachel Marr*

Casey Venoitte*

Mark Kislingbury Academy of Court Reporting

Houston, Texas

Christy Nowotny       

Pearl Gonzalez           

Cayley Rodrigue        

Macomb Community College

Clinton Township, Mich.

Allison Boggess         

Jennifer Mitrevski      

LaTasha Lindsey       

Allison Grawburg      

Carla Stark     

Kim Champagne        

Jackie Felker  

Robin Fisette  

Dorothy Strong          

Robert Ludkiig          

Kelly Mason  

Alicia Urbinati           

NAIT

Edmonton, AB Canada       

Andriana Bilous

Angeline Jacobsen

Caprice Albert

Elizabeth Fossen

Emily Ferdinand

Ericah Crumback

Jasmine Hallis

Jennifer Friesen

Jodie Kostiw

Joseph Nudelman

Julia Desrosiers

Katherine Gallin

Kayla Velthuis-Kroeze

Kelcy Sherbank

Kristina Zeller

Krystal Truong

Lucie Titley

Marie Foreman

Meagan Gibson

Michael Thomas

Robin Tarnowetzki

Roxanna Doctor

Sara Pelletier

Tyler Hopkins

Abby Robinson

Amanda Hebb

Ariana McCalla*

Bradley Morrison

Julie Layton*

Lora Zabiran

McKaya Baril*

Michelle Stevens

Netannys Turner-Wiens

Presley Thomson

Sarah Pfau

Shauna Lagore*

Stephanie Jabbour

Yazda Khaled

Plaza College

Forest Hills, N.Y.

Paula Mullen*

Taylor Mascari*

Bianna Lewis*           

Letizia Yemma*        

Michelle Paluszek*    

Elisabeth Dempsey*  

Dishawn Williams*    

Maia Morgan*

Alexandra Bourekas*

Rachel Salatino*        

Emily Nicholson*      

Tikiya Etchison*        

Christina Penna          

Shane Perry    

Pedro Santiago           

Cecilia Miranda