General Requirements and Minimum Standards updated

In August 2019, NCRA’s Board of Directors approved changes to the General Requirements and Minimum Standards (GRMS) required for NCRA-approved court reporting programs. The Council on Approved Student Education (CASE) proposed a way to recognize court reporting programs that don’t participate in Title IV funding but want to be among the court reporting programs approved by NCRA. The change created a Tier II eligibility, such as the standards that are required for teaching a realtime reporting program, and the expectations of NCRA for educational programs.

“NCRA and the Council on Approved Student Education (CASE) are providing an avenue by which court reporting programs that don’t participate in Title IV funding but are licensed in their state are eligible to become an NCRA-approved program,” explained Cynthia Bruce Andrews, NCRA’s Senior Director of Education and Certification. “With the success of the NCRA A to ZTM Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand, we are looking forward to approving more court reporting programs.”

Changes to the GRMS that reflect the best practices have taken effect on Oct. 1, 2019. All new applications for NCRA approval must reflect a program’s compliance with the new GRMS.

If you have any questions, contact Cynthia Bruce Andrews, Senior Director of Education and Certification, at 703-584-9058 or candrews@ncra.org.

Why you need to consider a career in court reporting

On Sept. 28, Conscious Life News posted an article about the pros of choosing a career in court reporting.

Read more.

VCRA announces 2020 scholarship open to all court reporting students

The Virginia Court Reporters Association (VCRA) is seeking applications from court reporting students for its second Carolyn M. O’Connor Education Fund Scholarship in the amount of $1,000. Applicants are not required to be residents of Virginia; however, they must have passed at least one of their accredited brick and mortar or online court reporting program’s tests of a minimum of 160 words per minute.

Applicants are also required to submit an essay of at least 1,000 words that addresses the question “How do you see your court reporting career enhancing your life?” Deadline for applying for the scholarship is Jan. 10, 2020. The winner will be notified by Feb. 15, 2020, and be invited as a guest to VCRA’s 2020 Convention being held March 20-22, in Lynchburg, Va., where they will be recognized and receive their award, along with a one-year membership to VCRA.

The scholarship is supported by the Carolyn M. O’Connor Education Fund, which celebrates the life of Carolyn Morris O’Connor and recognizes the many contributions she made to the profession.

For more information, contact VCRA at VCRAexecutivedirector@gmail.com or download an application here, which includes the full list of requirements to apply.

Court reporters offering classes at Champaign library in effort to combat shortage

The News-Gazette posted an article on Sept. 13 about First Steps, a free introductory course into writing on a steno machine being offered by the state to help combat the shortage of court reporters in Illinois. 

Read more.

NCRF Student Intern Scholarship Opens Oct. 1

The National Court Reporters Foundation will begin accepting applications for the Student Intern Scholarship on Oct. 1. The scholarship is a $1,000 award, given annually to two high-achieving court reporting students who have completed the internship portion of their education. Recipients are nominated by their schools. This scholarship is open to students who are current NCRA members from any court reporting program. A full list of criteria and more information can be found here.

New student memberships free for rest of 2019

NCRA is offering free student memberships to new members for the remainder of 2019. Interested students should apply on the NCRA website or contact membership@ncra.org with inquiries.

Student member Madeline Dub said she decided to become a member mainly because her mother encouraged her. She is currently a student at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif.

When asked about her motivation, Dub said of her mother, “She’s a working reporter and is steadfastly involved and updated when it comes to her career, which is something I hope to mirror as a professional one day.”

“The main benefit of NCRA membership for me personally is confidence,” Dub continued. “One of my biggest obstacles as a student is picturing myself as a working reporter. From networking with students and reporters at seminars to staying current with technology and trends in the industry, I have been able to gain a more professional mindset, which in turn has made me a more confident student. Membership has allowed me to feel like a part of the community that’ll be with me my whole career, even during my education.”

Some of the benefits of being a student member of NCRA are:

  • Eligibility for the CASE scholarship
  • Savings on testing prices by paying the member rate
  • Mentors and resources that support the completion of school
  • Savings on Convention prices (great networking!)
  • Two introductory certifications (RPR and CRC) that you can start while still in school
  • Subscription to the JCR magazine and JCR Weekly
  • Members-only discounts on office supplies and more through the NCRA Member Savings Program
  • Members-only discounted group insurance programs
  • Special student pricing to networking and educational events at the NCRA Convention & Expo
  • First-year and second-year membership rates for students who roll over their membership to participating or registered status

Student webinar success

By Joshua B. Edwards, RDR, CRR

On Aug. 25, the New York State Court Reporting Association held its first-ever student webinar. 

More than 60 students joined from Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, as well as Canada and the UK. 

Speakers included:

Nancy Silberger, NYSCRA President, Supreme Court Reporter;

Joshua Edwards, NYSCRA President-elect, CART captioner;

Harriet Brenner-Gettleman, NYSCRA Past President, owner, The Realtime Center for Learning;

Dominick Tursi, NYSCRA Past President, Official Federal Court Reporter;

Karen Santucci, Director of the Court Reporting Program at Plaza College;

Christopher Day, Supreme Court Reporter, author of stenonymous.com;

Adam Alweis, Chief Reporter, NYS Supreme Court;

Howie Gresh, Supreme Court Reporter, Reporting Instructor;

Diane Salters, Supreme Court Reporter; and

Susan Marrone, owner, Emerald-Associated Reporters, Inc.

Topics discussed included best way to learn theory and build speed, the importance of reading back one’s practice takes, overcoming nerves on test days, the importance of the transcript as the court reporter’s work product upon which one’s reputation is based, professionalism on the job, and the value of having a mentor.  The session ended with an offer to send a list of the most frequently used “small” words in the English language.  Several student participants wrote afterward expressing appreciation for that resource, as well as for the webinar being held.

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 who 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 in San Antonio, Texas;
  • 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.