Court reporting student earns scholarship

The Surprise Independent posted a press release on Sept. 16 issued by NCRA announcing that Lisa Johnson, a court reporting student at Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Ariz., has been awarded a $1,500 scholarship by the Association’s Council on Approved Student Education.

Read more.

A to Z Scholarship recipient announced

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Sept. 3 that NCRA recently awarded Deneatha McGeachy of Decatur, Ga., a $500 NCRA A to Z® Scholarship.

Read more.

San Antonio students awarded court reporter scholarships

TV station KSAT aired a segment on Aug. 21 featuring two court reporting students and scholarship recipients from San Antonio, Texas, who are on their way to becoming among the hardest working people in the courtroom.

Watch here.

Student winners going to NCRA Connect Virtual 2020

Congratulations to the 10 student winners of an NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 registration! The winners’ names were announced on Facebook by 2020-2021 President-elect Christine Phipps, RPR, owner of Phipps Reporting, West Palm Beach, Fla., who also provided the prizes.

NCRA Connect starts Friday and offers some sessions for students like Understanding the Profession After Graduation with Barbara Galarno, RPR, CRI, and Court Petros, RPR, and Success as an Online Student with Jensen Wohlgemuth and Kelly Moranz, CRI.

Students — and all registrants — will also be able to network with others in the court reporting and captioning community and enjoy fun events at the end of each day.

The winners are:

Allison Fang, Del Mar College

Rebecca Larsen, West Valley Community College

Amanda LeFebre, South Coast College

Maria Elain Nermon, Cypress College

Eileen Quiles, Plaza College

Laura Smith, Court Reporting at Home

Robyn Stokes, self-study

Sai Tsang, StarTran Online

Lisa Tunzi, College of Court Reporting

Zoe Zimmerman, Atlantic Technical College

NCRA announces 2020 A to Z Scholarship recipients

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s NCRA A to Z® Scholarships. Winning scores are based on teacher recommendations, speed, and GPA. Scholarship applicants must have completed an NCRA A to Z Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program and be currently enrolled in a court reporting program. Funding for the scholarships comes from generous donations through NCRF. This year, 10 scholarships in the amount of $500 have been awarded to the following students:

  • Alexis Arnold of Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio. “The NCRA A to Z program is where I fell in love with steno. It allowed me to see that this future is possible for me. It gave me a foundation and prepared me for theory, giving me a head start for my first class. And because I fell in love with steno through the A to Z program, as much blood, sweat and tears as it takes, nothing can shake me, allowing me to persevere and look forward to the other side as a working court reporter.”
  • Rebekah Garza of San Antonio College in San Antonio, Texas. “I personally feel that the A to Z program helped prepare me for what I was to expect as a court reporting student and gave me a kickstart to the information I was to learn in theory. It also gave me a glimpse of the close-knit relationships and amazing bond court reporters share in this amazing profession. I am forever thankful for the support that was shown to me in the A to Z program.”
  • Carnice Hill of MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill. “The NCRA A to Z program was instrumental in giving me the confidence I needed to begin my career and life-changing journey in court reporting.”
  • Deneatha McGeachy, of Hardeman School of Court Reporting and Captioning in Pinellas Park, Fla. “The A to Z program helped me prepare for school by giving me experience with writing on the machine, understanding the steno alphabet, and actually helping me to choose the exact school I’m attending now. The A to Z program was well-worth attending.”
  • Sarah Richmond of Plaza College in Forest Hills, N.Y. “Thank you so much for the surprising good news! I am happy and honored to accept the scholarship. I owe my advisor, Karen Santucci, a big thank you for encouraging me to apply.”
  • Karen Collis from Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, AB, Canada. “I took the A to Z program while I was waiting to see if I was accepted into NAIT for their next semester. I wanted to use that time to my advantage, and so my mom suggested I take the program. A to Z covered the key fundamentals of the machine, shorthand, and all the possible avenues the career can take you in. Every week there was a new teacher there to give us their perspective on court reporting and what their experience has been so far in the field. It was a great way to see what possibilities lay ahead. Starting classes in September, I knew the keyboard and I felt prepared with a base knowledge of steno that helped me.”
  • Carrie Schill of Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, AB, Canada. “The NCRA A to Z course was beyond valuable. In six weeks, I went from having my hands on the machine for the first time, to knowing the entire alphabet and writing actual words. It felt like I was given a head start to what I knew was going to be a challenging program. The lessons and insight from the instructors each week gave a great glimpse into what this career is all about.”
  • Luisa Vertucci of Plaza College in Forest Hills, N.Y. “The A to Z program helped me to better understand the expectations of the court reporting field. As an Italian court reporter, I already understand the fundamental techniques of court reporting, such as writing combinations. However, the position of each letter on the steno machine is different on an Italian keyboard vs. an American keyboard. A to Z gave me the opportunity to familiarize myself with these differences before starting my first semester at Plaza.”
  • Jennifer Webb of Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, AB, Canada. “I attended A to Z and heard from working reporters and captioners in the industry, more about NAIT’s program and instructors, and felt immediately welcomed into this community. And, of course, I loved learning about the steno machine itself! It was a totally invaluable experience as someone who left a job of 10 years to jump into this change. I can now say instead of just a job, I’m confidently heading into a career!”
  • Jill Wright of Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio. “The A to Z program was a fantastic experience before I started court reporting school. Not only did it teach me the foundation of the steno machine, it connected me with an awesome mentor to support me through my journey.”

NCRF is currently accepting donations to meet our 2020-21 goal of $5,000 to fund an additional ten scholarships. To donate, please text 41444 with this message: A2ZFUND $Amount Name and Message.

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

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.

Why I have chosen to be a court reporter…again

Kimberly S. Coltrain

By Kimberly S. Coltrain

Kimberly S. Coltrain graduated from court reporting school 30 years ago, right before a hiring freeze. Her life went in a different direction, but “the flicker of court reporting never completely extinguished.” Twenty-seven years later, Coltrain went back to school. Daunted by the new challenge, she was ready to give up when a phone call changed her mind. “There I was, in the middle of Walmart, preparing to fill out an application to supplement my school clerk salary, and my phone went off. I’m so glad I answered!”

My journey began in May of 1988. I walked into my high school office procedures class, and the guest speaker inquired, “How many of you like English?”  A portion of the class raised their hands. “How many of you are nosy?”  More hands went up. “How many of you like the possibility of making $100,000 a year?”  All hands were in the air, eyes glued forward, ears perked! Any previous secretarial career presentations were overshadowed by something called court reporting.

I began attending Stenotype Academy that September. The next 24 months were filled with learning theory, legal and medical terminology, speedbuilding classes, and relearning to type properly (just when I thought the ‘hunt and peck’ method would carry me through!) Within 20 months I earned an occupational science degree in court reporting, and I began a per diem position for the New York civil court circuit. I also began planning (and buying) for my wedding.

A month after our celebration, all non-salaried positions were frozen. I hadn’t invested in acquiring any certifications, upgrading from a manual writer, or CAT equipment. I just couldn’t compete. I had no clue of what a mentor was, and I was lost. My training in general office procedures took precedence. The degree allowed me to command more than if I had only earned a high school diploma, but my heart yearned for the steno world.

The next three decades intertwined with birthday parties, diagnoses, concerts, divorce, scouting, proms, deployments, job searches, just every aspect of life. Throughout those years, though, the flicker for court reporting never completely extinguished. During my last appointment with my surgical team I was asked if I had any plans (did they mean besides smiling 24/7?) I immediately responded with, “I’m returning to my first love.”

I began researching online schools to interview. A brick and mortar school just wasn’t conducive in Atlanta traffic, and for me to drive more than a mile anywhere after dark was asking for an accident to happen! I had my interview questions, my needs, and my wants. I needed to know up front: accreditation, cost per credit, if transfer credits were accepted (even from 26 years ago), and if financial aid was an option. I thought that was enough to at least get started. I looked on websites of several schools, but when I found College of Court Reporting I was hooked! Everything was listed right on the webpage! Cost per credit, time commitment, sample schedule, textbooks, accreditation, and qualifications of every faculty member from academic to court reporting instructors, financial aid, technology, communications and public relations personnel; every question I could think of had a link for the answer.  If I still needed clarification, Nicky Rodriguez was now on speed dial. I enrolled in June of 2017.

I wriggled out my little manual ‘dental bowl’ writer and threaded the paper. My fingers assumed the position and I felt like I was seeing an old friend. But how was this going to work? I knew CAT was required if I was planning on a full comeback, but paper was so familiar. No worries, CCR suggested choices of writers that would accommodate me at least through school. My heart said Wave, but my budget screamed Protégé! And I could use paper … until I found that the writer I purchased didn’t have a ribbon cartridge or a paper tray, and the battery had long since gone on to glory. No worries. I downloaded the manual, hit the Goodwill for a $2 USB connector to stop that chirp and it was game ON! The ASCII & zip worlds awaited!

Boy, was I in for a shock! To say that there wasn’t a time I felt like giving up would be untrue. Two weeks before my Theory 1 final, I sent the email to CCR: “That’s it! This is ridiculous! Why I thought I could do this again this many years later is beyond me! Thanks CCR, but no thanks!” 

There I was, in the middle of Walmart, preparing to fill out an application to supplement my school clerk salary and my phone went off. I’m so glad I answered!  My instructor blurted out, “I know I’m not supposed to, but I had to call. I saw your email. Just stick it out through the final. It’s just two more weeks. Just wait it out…please.”  Oh, all right! I stepped away from the job kiosk and went home.

I kept practicing, reviewed the previous lessons, and prepared for the final. Things weren’t so bad…I was okay…what could possibly go wrong? Besides Hurricane Irma blocking both exits to my street and leaving us without power for eight days? Nothing. I practiced by powering my writer from my Toyota until I could get to the library and ration internet. But what was I to do for the final? It was going to be after library hours. My mom lived an hour east, but her power had been restored for the past two days. I loaded my trusty Protégé into Trixi, put on high beams, and we made the trek! I took the final and got a 95.5!

I still hit plateaus. But I know what needs to be done. Of the many things that have changed, I know that getting back to basics is key:  Revisit your theory as needed, develop the muscle memory, never compare yourself, look for your drops and drill on it, break it down, (I still print it out and red pen it up), speedbuild on it, challenge yourself, get over the pity party, pop the chocolate, read it back, and keep going

 I’ve gotten massive encouragement (and a few well-needed virtual kicks in the rear) and so much support from everyone at CCR that I can’t dream of attending anywhere else. From the first idea of making a homemade stenoboard to carry with me when I don’t have my writer, through completing nine live mentor tests, to recommendations that have helped me earn scholarships, to recently finding out I passed the simulated RPR/CSR graduation requirement, this journey has been nothing short of astonishing! 

What consistently draws me back are thoughts of being able to serve. Perhaps I’ll be entrusted by the Georgia Pro Bono Project to assist a client who may not have means. Maybe I’ll have the honor to take down an adventure from a military service veteran. And I know the opportunity to encourage any student as a mentor will always be crucial to the posterity of court reporting.

Never before have I felt a truer distinction between a profession and vocation. A profession is chosen; a vocation chooses you.

Let’s go FellowFingerFlyers! Focal point found! Fingers on home row! Let’s write it Right!

Kimberly S. Coltrain is a student at the College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind.

Last chance for early access savings for NCRA Connect 2020!

Last chance to catch the early access savings on full and half registration package fees for the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 conference happening Aug. 7-9. These savings end tonight at midnight.

Full registration to the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 includes access to all three days of activities, including all non-CEU activities and 16 CEU sessions of the registrant’s choice for a total of 1.6 CEU credits. The early access member cost for full registration is $300. The regular price is $325 for regular registration. A half registration package is also available that includes access to all three days for all non-CEU activities and seven CEU sessions of the registrant’s choice. The member cost for half registration is $180 for early access and $200 for regular registration. The special rates for students are $60 for members and $75 for nonmembers.

“In a field where we are constantly learning, continuing education is essential. Whether I’m presenting the seminar or attending the seminar, my hope is always that every attendant will take away at least one relevant concept when the seminar is finished,” said Allison Hall, RMR, CRR, an official court reporter from Tulsa, Okla., who is presenting a session called “Work Smarter, Not Harder,” at the NCRA Connect event.

“Continuing education isn’t about a requirement; it’s about learning and molding yourself into the professional you want to be, one seminar at a time,” Hall added. Her session will offer attendees ways to up their efficiency, increase their profitability, and reduce the amount of stress they often experience in this high-stress field.

Over the course of three days, attendees will have the opportunity to choose from sessions that address being audited by the Internal Revenue Service, teach best practices for marking exhibits electronically during remote proceedings, and more. In addition, there are sessions geared toward students, such as the one on understanding the profession after they graduate. There are even two yoga sessions being held on Saturday and Sunday to help attendees get their day off to a great start.

Attendees also will have the opportunity to participate in a number of fun networking parties, including specialty ones geared toward officials, freelancers, captioners, firm owners, new professionals, and students and teachers.

“Networking is essential in our profession. Attending an NCRA convention will put you in the right place at the right time to meet the right people that can help you advance in your career,” said Teresa Russ, CRI, a captioner and freelance court reporter from Bellflower, Calif.

“Oftentimes you never know what to expect when you accept a job, whether it’s captioning or covering a depo. The seminars are designed to meet the needs of the challenges court reporters, CART and broadcast captioners, and students will possibly encounter,”  she added.

Other learning session highlights include a presentation by Matthew Moss, RPR, an official court reporter from Denver, Colo., who will present “Motivation, Beating Obstacles, Achieving Goals, and Growth Mindset,” and “What Every Court Reporter Should Know About Punctuation to Transcribe Correctly,” being led by the renowned Dr. Santo “Joe” Aurelio, FAPR, RDR, (Ret.) from Arlington, Mass.

NCRA member Karen Peckham, RMR, CRR, an official court reporter from Westminster, Calif., said she is looking forward to NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 because the last time she was able to attend an NCRA Conference was when it was held in San Francisco, Calif., in 2014. She signed up for the virtual event, she said, because she wants to earn her CEUs.

See the complete schedule of sessions, including networking opportunities, exhibitor showcases, and the virtual vendor hall, at NCRA.org. For more information about registration and nonmember registration pricing, visit the NCRA website. Remember, sessions will be available to view through midnight, Aug. 25, after the event, so you won’t have to worry about missing a minute of this virtual experience.

Register now.

Students and teachers learn to cope with COVID-19

When stay-at-home orders were put in place across the country, brick-and-mortar schools were forced to shut their doors. The last couple of months have been challenging, but court reporting programs have found ways to adapt and serve the needs of their students during this unusual time. Whether they already had online programs in place, or are starting from scratch, everyone is learning to transition. Up-to-Speed asked teachers and students, “How are you coping with COVID-19?”


My speed building students are rocking right along in their daily assignments since we have the use of Blackboard at GSCC and Realtime Coach for all students. Since we are a brick and mortar school, the students are not fond of being absent from the classroom, their classmates, and the environment of being in school, but they are doing fine. Most prefer to be at school rather than home because school is their place of focus.

Testing has become much more of a challenge online because they get better feedback being in the classroom rather than getting it in an email. It has increased my workload tremendously to give them feedback on daily homework, classwork, and tests since I am not able to sit face-to-face with them. However, we are all adjusting and making it OK. I have actually had two graduate at the end of April!

I have made myself available as much as possible by using Facetime, texting, or phone calls. We are constantly coming up with new ways to make this transition of temporary online schooling as smooth as possible.

Our college has not yet determined when we will be back in the classroom, but hopefully it will be before summer is over, “God willing and the creek don’t rise.” It’s a Southern thing. 😉

Leah M. Elkins, CRI, CCR Instructor/Advisor, Gadsden State Community College (GSCC), Gadsden, Ala.


Many people may feel that online learning is difficult, but I love the flexibility of it. Since life as we know it has changed due to COVID 19, online learning is the perfect option for someone who is looking for a career path or a career change.

I currently work in a skilled nursing facility in which there are patients and staff who are COVID positive. Life is very stressful caring for these sick people and then worrying that I could possibly get my family sick. I have days in which I may work long hours and then days that may be much shorter. Due to this uncertainty and chaos, the ability to take every class online for the captioning and court reporting program has been wonderful. I am able to practice on the steno machine at my own convenience which could be before work on some days or after the kids go to bed on other days. Even though the course load may feel overwhelming at times, the ability to do the work during my free time has been a blessing.

For me, if I were doing a traditional in-class learning schedule, I would not be as successful. There would not be enough time in the day to go to class, work full time, and be able to spend quality time with by children and husband. Online learning was the perfect option for me.

Allison Berg, student, Cuyahoga Community College, Parma, Ohio


Even though SimplySteno has been exclusively online for the last 15 years, changes have been made during Covid-19 to increase the social aspect of the program in these times when social distancing is encouraged. That has meant adding more live classes, which is another opportunity for students to see other students. In addition, Covid-19 has inspired us to create an online social network exclusively for our students – a safe space where they can share their stories with others in the SimplySteno program. 

Marc Greenberg, CRI, SimplySteno


Our spring semester took on a new look due to COVID-19. We were actually one step ahead of the “new normal” by already starting to use a platform called Bluejeans to teach from, as well as for the students to attend classes from. We had started a pilot program using Bluejeans in the fall of 2018 to allow students who did not have access to one of our shared-program technical colleges to attend our program from their home or a place where they had the required internet capability. So, when the safer-at-home order hit, we were up and running immediately. All students just attended their live classes on their regular schedules via Bluejeans from their homes.

Jackie Rupnow, RPR, CRI, our other instructor, and I had a few challenges in getting all our materials together and utilizing my husband and Jackie’s daughter for our second voice for our testimony classes. We thank them both for stepping in to keep our students on track! We did also set up speed tests through Realtime Coach just in case for April and May, which the college paid for so there was no cost to the students for that additional Realtime Coach feature. 

With that said, all students were able to complete their spring courses, and we had one graduate for the spring semester. 

Barbi Galarno, RPR, CRI, M.S.Ed., Court Reporting Instructor, Lakeshore Technical College, Cleveland, Wisc.


It seemed as if the crisis just snuck up on all of us locally and around the country. We were all watching the news and aware of the statistics surrounding the virus across the country when suddenly, faculty and students at Tri-C were informed that we would all begin to work remotely.

The fact that we had an online program already established alleviated stress for our students as well as our faculty. It was truly a ready-set-go situation for us. Amid all kinds of other frustrations and worries as they determined how to manage changes in their professional workplace, support their children’s teachers, deal with loss of income, and worry about health, our students expressed that their classes were a nice break from those things. Students found tending to coursework without hesitation to be a welcome way to spend their time and a sense of relief while adjusting to their new normal. The need to finish up with their schooling became even more important as many students faced changes in their employment situations.

A community college with access to grants and support, Tri-C provided laptops to nearly 150 students in financial need. It also has programs to help students find other financial support, food sources, and counseling. Overwhelmingly, Tri-C’s students have done very well academically as they shoulder the coronavirus in these uncertain times.

Kelly Moranz, CRI, Program Director, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Parma, Ohio

Stenograph announces winner of the Milton H. Wright Scholarship

In a press release issued March 6, Stenograph announced the winner of a new scholarship that honors Stenograph’s founder, Milton H. Wright. The winner of the scholarship, awarded through a partnership with NCRF, is Lisa Wurtinger, a student at Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn.

Read more.