2020 Student Speed Contest results

Emma Rosky

A record number of students took part in NCRA’s Student Skills Contest last month. Twelve schools across the country celebrated 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week by participating in the contest. Of the 187 students who took tests, 45 passed either a Literary, Q&A, or both.

“The Student Speed Contest is a wonderful way to challenge students to write their best and a great addition to the battery of celebrations during CR&C week,” said Deborah DuBuc, RPR, CRI, CPE, an instructor at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in Newton, Iowa.

NCRA would like to congratulate the winners of the 2020 contest. Of the students who passed the five-minute dictation test, three winners were drawn at random. Emma Rosky of DMACC was awarded the Walt Disney Grand Prize, NCRA’s RPR Study Guide.

“Thank you for choosing me!” Rosky told Up-to-Speed, NCRA’s student newsletter. “I found the court reporting program thanks to my mom, who works in the legal field. I’m currently deciding between working as an official or freelance reporter. I look forward to class each day and can’t wait to start my internship this summer!”

DuBuc said she was very excited to hear that Rosky won. “DMACC faculty and staff are very pleased for Emma, who is a dedicated student and a fantastic writer. We can’t wait to see where the profession takes her!”

Eileen Quiles

Second place, or the Mickey Mouse Prize, went to Eileen Quiles, of Plaza College in Forest Hills, N.Y. She was awarded a free leg of the RPR Skills Test. “I cannot express enough how much court reporting is of interest to me,” Quiles said. “The thought of creating a word-for-word record of proceedings that are transcribed for the use of judges, lawyers, and others involved is exciting and rewarding. Especially now at a time where there is a shortage of reporters, I could not have thought of a better time to do this. My ultimate goal is to one day caption for the New York Yankees!”

Karen Santucci, CRI, director of the court reporting program at Plaza College, was happy to hear that Quiles had won an award. “Eileen is well on her way to becoming a successful working reporter. We just couldn’t be more proud of her – and all of our students – for their dedication to the field,” Santucci said.

Allison Smyth, a student at MacCormac College in Chicago , will receive the Minnie Mouse Prize – a $25 Starbucks gift card.

Allison Smyth

“I love court reporting,” Smyth said, “because though it is a very small, often overlooked career, it is one of the most vital roles in the court system. I feel so lucky to be learning from such amazing teachers and reporters who inspire me to keep pushing every day. I’m eager to finish school and start working alongside my fellow reporters!” 

For this speed test, students had the choice of taking a Literary or a Q&A test consisting of five minutes of dictation. Students took the test at a speed level they were working on or had just passed and must have achieved 96 percent or higher accuracy to be eligible to win a prize. Because the contest was open to students at all levels, schools were able to have some or all of their students involved. Schools saw this as a great way to get the word out about the profession. “Here at Plaza, all of our students who participated were recognized locally on ABC and NY1 news for their hard work,” said Santucci.

Many thanks to Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, CRC, an official court reporter from Dallas, Texas, 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.

Name School
Lindsey Polin Atlantic Technical College
Kelly Madden Atlantic Technical College
Shawn Majewski Community College of Allegheny County
Jennifer Hollinger Community College of Allegheny County
Laura McMahon Community College of Allegheny County
Lola Brown Community College of Allegheny County
Emily Diaz Community College of Allegheny County
Jennifer Gale Community College of Allegheny County
Deanna Heckel Community College of Allegheny County
Amy Judge Community College of Allegheny County
Colleen McCleary Community College of Allegheny County
Donna Harrington Community College of Allegheny County
Rachael Syska Community College of Allegheny County
Jace Mascioli Community College of Allegheny County
Katie Wilkerson Community College of Allegheny County
Jonathan MacDonald Community College of Allegheny County
Kristi Kelley* College of Court Reporting
Stephanie Oldeck* College of Court Reporting
Kristi Perkins* College of Court Reporting
Leslie Roesler* College of Court Reporting
Antonia Tucker* College of Court Reporting
Tolisha Belcher College of Court Reporting
Cynthia Bonner College of Court Reporting
Kimberly Coltrain College of Court Reporting
Gabrielle Day College of Court Reporting
Ann Marie Gibson College of Court Reporting
Jill Haefner College of Court Reporting
Keisha Jarrett College of Court Reporting
Larie Kuzma College of Court Reporting
Christil McAllister College of Court Reporting
Brittany Moore College of Court Reporting
Vicki Pelletier College of Court Reporting
Anna Ruemelin College of Court Reporting
Veronica Sandbakken College of Court Reporting
Dianna Schmitz College of Court Reporting
Stacy Shuler College of Court Reporting
Alexis Williams Del Mar College
Natalie Villaveva Del Mar College
Haley Rodriguez Del Mar College
Brice Bovolick Del Mar College
Manuel Torres Del Mar College
Karla Trevino Del Mar College
AdriAnne Avila Del Mar College
Caitlyn Belin Del Mar College
Faith Carrillo Del Mar College
Leanna Alvarez Del Mar College
Amanda Leal Del Mar College
Maloree Trevino Del Mar College
Rosie Rodriguez Del Mar College
Beth Hicks Del Mar College
Andreana Alcidas Del Mar College
Charlotte Pitts Del Mar College
Sarah San Miguel Del Mar College
Savannah Liles Del Mar College
John Whitaker Del Mar College
Emily Kroenig* Des Moines Area Community College
Emma Rosky* Des Moines Area Community College
Hailey Scandridge* Des Moines Area Community College
Kelsey Biggs    Des Moines Area Community College
Camryn Dunne Des Moines Area Community College
Sidney Frey Des Moines Area Community College
Abigail Kahler Des Moines Area Community College
Rebecca Morningstar Des Moines Area Community College
Karlye Walton Des Moines Area Community College
Madalyn Massey Des Moines Area Community College
Sierra Scarnati Des Moines Area Community College
Lonnie Appleby Des Moines Area Community College
Chelsie Byroads* Green River College
Emily Lust* Green River College
Sakara Byroads* Green River College
Megan Speed* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Cristina Ameel* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Ceita Lazar* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Kaitlin McGowan* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Bridget Frederick* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Mandy Perzan* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Ashley McDonald* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Allison Smyth Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Robert Miller* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Jessica Shines* Hardeman School of Court Reporting & Captioning
Jennifer Huss Lakeshore Technical College
Jodie Carrico Lakeshore Technical College
Kim Gorecki Lakeshore Technical College
Robert Ludwig      Macomb Community College
Allison Grawburg  Macomb Community College
Wendy Chunn Macomb Community College
Robin Fisette Macomb Community College
Dorothy Strong Macomb Community College
Erin Bartko* Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Sophia Dame* Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Alexis Hill* Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Diana Semler* Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Caprice Albert Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Jada Babiuk Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Alexandrea Baird Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Barbara Berney Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Sara Blackburn Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Karen Collis Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Ericah Crumback Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Julia Desrosiers Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Roxanna Doctor Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Emily Ferdinand Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Marie Foreman Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Elizabeth Fossen Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Jennifer Friesen Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Katherine Gallin Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Jasmine Hallis Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Kayla Hotte Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Angeline Jacobsen Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Eileen Johnson Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Desislava Kancheva Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Deborah Kenakin Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Myung Kyu Kim Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Nicole Leddy Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Anna Marcus Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Michaella Matthies Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Bradley Morrison Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Kim Nguyen Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Joseph Nudelman Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Kaitlyn Paul Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Sara Pelletier Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Andrew Penner Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Spencer Reid Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Hanan Rusich Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Carrie Schill Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Kelcy Sherbank Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Florence Smith Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Robin Tarnowetzki Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Michael Thomas Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Lucie Titley Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Krystal Truong Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Netannys Turner-Wiens Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Nicole Vanderwolf Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Kayla Velthuis-Kroeze Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Daniella Walker Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Jennifer Webb Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
Diane Chen* Plaza College
Samantha Cipriano* Plaza College
Mia Grant* Plaza College
Amanda Vila* Plaza College
Adrianna Filc* Plaza College
Michelle Paluszek* Plaza College
Mayer Weisel* Plaza College
Paula Rojas * Plaza College
Luisa Vertucci* Plaza College
Alexis Zinckgraf* Plaza College
Jennifer Palladino* Plaza College
Eileen Quiles* Plaza College
Joalsi Siri*  Plaza College
Elisa Rodriguez* Plaza College
Antonette Bassi* Plaza College
Daniella Brodsky* Plaza College
Erica Howard* Plaza College
Emma DeCorsey* Plaza College
Lauren Gode* Plaza College
Julissa Rodriguez* Plaza College
Darla Lawson Plaza College
Kathryn Russo Plaza College
Cynthia Quezada Plaza College
Olivia Murray Plaza College
David Gordon Plaza College
Marsha Bruk Plaza College
Alex Diaz-Polanco Plaza College
Sara Richmond     Plaza College
Katherine O’Hara     Plaza College
Radhika Rampersaud Plaza College
Shantelle McIntyre Plaza College
Colleen Hartie Plaza College
Paula Mullen Plaza College
Margeaux LaForte Plaza College
Carmen Vesa Plaza College
Cecilia Miranda Plaza College
Isabella Weiss Plaza College
Melissa Colon Plaza College
Maia Morgon Plaza College
Malia McDaniel Plaza College
Dishawn Williams Plaza College
Ramona Perez Plaza College
Paradise Rosario Plaza College
Elisabeth Dempsey Plaza College
Colleen Hansen South Suburban College
Cascidy Bandyk South Suburban College
Jennifer Blum South Suburban College
Amanda Castaldo South Suburban College
Ema Frye South Suburban College
Marissa Loring South Suburban College
Lilly Martlink South Suburban College

Court reporting programs nationwide celebrate For the love of steno

NCRA’s 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebrated the love of steno nationwide with official proclamations and an array of activities ranging from career days to Veterans History Project events to social hours and more. This year’s theme, For the love of steno, marked the week that was observed Feb. 8-15 and embraced especially by students and faculty in court reporting programs across the country. Below is a wrap up of the week:

At Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Cuyahoga, Ohio, where the court reporting program is experiencing a record enrollment this semester, students were treated to a surprise guest speaker hosted via WEBEX so those locally and around the country could listen in. Students also took shifts in the main galleria of the college to staff a prize wheel and steno machine station. Passersby who tried out the steno machine on display were then given the chance to spin a prize wheel.

Members of Tri-C’s Court Reporting Club hosted two meet-and-greet sessions with working reporters for all the students at the college. The professionals shared their experiences and best advice and then answered student questions. Students shared that it was highly motivating and provided them with actionable steps they could follow for success. Both sessions were also webcast to students nationwide.

Karen Santucci, CRI, New York State Court Reporters Association (NYSCRA) vice president and the director of the court reporting program at Plaza College in Queens, said the school kicked off the week with a visit by state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who presented students with a proclamation recognizing its dedication to educating men and women in the field of court reporting. During the week, the school also hosted five guest speakers representing official court reporters, firm owners, and grand jury reporters to share stories of their experiences. More than 100 students at the college also competed in a nationwide fast-fingers contest to celebrate the week.

Downy Adult School, Downy, Calif., celebrated the week by hosting a variety of different activities, including a pajama day where students and faculty enjoyed cupcakes embellished with the For the love of steno message and a hat day. There was also an “I scream for steno” day where participants made T-shirts celebrating court reporting and captioning, enjoyed ice cream cones, and watched the court reporting documentary For the Record. The school held a bake sale, a wear-red-and-pink day, and raffles for students to win prizes.

SimplySteno, an online court reporting program based in Tigard, Ore., celebrated by allowing free online screenings of the court reporting documentary For the Record.

In Chicago, Ill., students at MacCormac College hosted the Court Reporting & Captioning Week interactive question-and-answer session and reception that featured guest speaker NCRA member Isaiah Roberts, RPR. Roberts spoke to students and answered their questions about life on the “other side” of the RPR. Several other court reporters from the professional community were also on hand to answer questions.

The College of Court Reporting (CCR), Valparaiso, Ind., hosted NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, a firm owner and court reporter from Franklin, Tenn., as a guest speaker during the week. Curry addressed students, alumni, and the general public about the importance of the court reporting profession, the role schools play in educating students, and the value of being an NCRA member. 

To celebrate the week, court reporting students from the Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania participated in the 57th annual Academy Mock Trial Competition.

NCRA member Marjorie Peters, FAPR, RMR, CRR, volunteered to write the final round of the competition. She live-streamed to the iPads (courtesy of the court reporting program at CCAC) of the law students and trial judges 253 pages of impeccable realtime translation.

According to Natalie Kijurna, director of alumni and employer relations for CCR, the college also highlighted alumni in their chosen field by running a social media campaign based on the For the Love of Steno theme. Alumni also did a takeover of the school’s Snapchat account to spread the word about court reporting and captioning. Other activities included a Facebook Live event with a working court reporter, during which the school challenged their students and students at participating schools who use EV360 software to practice as much as possible. The top three students who practiced the most were awarded prizes.

Students at Atlantic Technical Institute in Coconut Creek, Fla., celebrated the week by holding a mock trial for students in a legal administration class to demonstrate the role of the court reporter and realtime writing. The mock trial was The Government vs. Tarzan. Tarzan was accused of kidnapping Jane. The students that attended the mock trial were the jurors, and they came back with a not guilty verdict. The school also hosted two of its recent graduates, who visited with current students and shared their experiences as new reporters and answered questions.

Even though the 2020 event is over, it is always a good time celebrate and promote the court reporting and captioning professions. Be sure to visit the NCRA Court Reporting & Captioning Week resources page to download a variety of materials, including many that can be customized and designed to help promote the profession.

Finally, don’t forget to mark your calendars and start planning now to celebrate NCRA’s 2021 Court Reporting & Captioning Week Feb. 6-13.

Career switch from the Navy to court reporting

Tiffany Sipler

Tiffany Sipler is a court reporting student at Plaza College in Forest Hills, N.Y.

UTS | Can you talk a little about your background?  You were in the U.S. Navy before you started court reporting school, right?

TS | That’s correct.  In a nutshell, I joined the United States Navy on my 21st birthday, back in August 2005. After serving six years active duty as a master-at-arms, both stateside and overseas, I returned home to the suburbs of Philadelphia and finished my bachelor of science in administration of justice from Pennsylvania State University. Life then presented the opportunity of working as an emergency communications dispatcher (otherwise known as a 911 operator) with the Bucks County Department of Emergency Communications. After years of shift work in the Navy and the 911 center, working 12-hour shifts (plus overtime), both weekends and holidays, I realized something was missing: quality of life. It was at this juncture in my life when I decided to do more for me. I wanted to learn and master the skill and occupation of court reporting.

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

TS | My coworker at the 911 center introduced me to her roommate, who was enrolled in court reporting school. After multiple discussions about court reporting, I became even more intrigued, and stenography constantly remained in the back of my mind. I had a very good job with Bucks County, which made my decision to leave at 35 years old to start something new very difficult. I researched, thought about, and considered what I possibly could regarding this amazing career for about three years before making my final decision to take the plunge and embark on a new journey.

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

TS | There’s definitely been a few for sure. Since starting school, my challenges have included a long commute, self-doubt, high stress, and juggling court reporting classes along with other academics.  Before committing to this program, I knew online schooling was not an option; I needed the communicative and engaging learning style. The closest brick-and-mortar school from Philadelphia is in Queens, New York; however, that is approximately 100 miles away and a two-hour drive in each direction on a good day. It was not the best arrangement, but I needed to be resilient and overcome these obstacles. I was determined! The first nine weeks of school, I stayed at an Airbnb – yep, didn’t work out. This was not ideal, so I finally decided to start commuting from home each day. I traveled by car, train, and subway, four days a week, which meant at least a six-hour round trip commute each day, passing through three different states. It was exhausting, stressful, emotionally draining, and extremely difficult. I needed to think flexibility…. maybe I should talk to my advisor and professors? I did, and ultimately the president of Plaza College was able to allow me to work from home utilizing Google Meet.  Plaza College has not only authorized me to use Google Meet, but even implemented online classes for remote students like myself. It’s been a saving grace to my overall health and stress levels.   

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?

TS | This is right up my alley. For years I have been trying to convince my nephews to follow in my military footsteps. Now, I’m trying to entice my 10-year-old niece to go to court reporting school. If I were to go to a high school career fair to recruit students, I would talk to them about this lucrative career and all the different options it has to offer. Whether you want to work a 9-5 job in the courts, make your own schedule while freelancing, or perhaps work with the hearing impaired, the options and opportunities are endless. On the other hand, even though job opportunities and money may be convincing, school is the hardest hurdle you’ll have to overcome. This is such an amazing and specific skill to learn, but once you achieve that 225 words per minute, this career can take you all over the world.

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?

TS | I’m super excited to see where this profession, as well as myself, goes in the next 10 years. I think technology in the form of CAT software, artificial intelligence, and stenograph writers will help our profession; however, only if we are willing to go the extra mile to learn the “what” and “why” of this technology. We will have to learn “with” and embrace technology as a support, not an enemy. The human touch and emotions will always have a role in this profession. In addition, I firmly believe that there will be a resurgence in the court reporting field. Based on the number of students enrolling in my school alone, I believe a new wave of court reporters will grace our presence and there will still be more than enough jobs for everyone. 

UTS | Where do you see yourself in five years?

TS | As a happy graduate of Plaza College! In five years, I hope to reflect on my time as a student at Plaza College with pride and no regret, knowing that I gave it my all. I want to celebrate the hard work, dedication, perseverance, and focus it took to learn a new instrument and language and how that skill enabled me to write 225 words per minute. Upon graduation, I’m hoping to grow in the freelance community, but ultimately learn and work my way into closed captioning and/or communication access realtime translation. In five years, I’m hoping to be living the life I envisioned this career would grant me: the ability to travel, live comfortably, and to be successful in more ways than one. Basically, the dream life!

It’s that magical time of year again for the annual NCRA Student Skills Contest

In celebration of Court Reporting & Captioning Week being held Feb. 8 – 15, 2020, the NCRA Student/Teacher Committee is sponsoring a Walt Disney themed skills contest that will be offered to all students at varying dictation speeds.  The tests (Literary and Q&A) consist of five minutes of dictation at a speed level commensurate with the current level of speed building each individual student is striving to achieve or has just successfully achieved.  In order to be eligible to win, students must pass one of the tests with 96 percent accuracy.  The faculty at each school will be responsible for dictating and grading the material which will be provided by the Student/Teacher Committee. *

How to win:  All students who successfully pass a test are eligible for prizes.  Winners will be drawn at random for first, second, and third place prizes among all the names of winners that are forwarded to Ellen Goff at NCRA Headquarters by March 2, 2020.

  • Walt Disney Grand Prize (1st):  NCRA’s RPR Study Guide ($125 value)
  • Mickey Mouse Prize (2nd):  Choice of a one-year NCRA Student Membership ($55 value) or one leg of the RPR Skills Test (72.50 value)
  • Minnie Mouse Prize (3rd):  $25 Starbucks Gift Card

All students who participate in the contest, even if they don’t pass a skills test, will have their names and schools published in the NCRA Student Newsletter and thejcr.com.  NCRA wants to showcase the hard work that students and schools are doing to promote the court reporting and captioning professions.

Let’s have some fun and make sure your school’s name is showcased as well as your own!  We’ve had an impressive number of students participating the past couple years.  Let’s see if we can make that number even larger in 2020!  Grab those Disney good luck charms and your magical Tinker Bell pixie dust and prepare to join the fun and camaraderie with your fellow students across the land as you endeavor to give this competition a whirl!  Whose school will have the most participants?  Will it be yours?  We don’t care if you’re at 60 WPM or 225 WPM.  This contest is for you!

As Walt Disney himself said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”  Let’s pursue this dream of competing in this contest and enjoying the fine cast of Disney characters who will entertain you with these skills dictations.  What do you have to lose? 

The annual NCRA Conference & Expo this year is in Orlando, Fla, Aug. 6-9, at the Hyatt Regency Orlando.   Mark your calendars.  We’ve got a great line-up planned!

For more information, feel free to contact Debbie Kriegshauser at deborah0841@att.net or Ellen Goff at egoff@ncra.org.

*Full details and rules for the contest will be sent to your school’s faculty, so please make sure they know you would like to participate in case they fail to receive the material through the appropriate channels. We will make sure they receive it.

For the love of steno, celebrate 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week

For the love of steno is this year’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week theme and one that can be touted year-round by court reporting schools and their students. The 2020 weeklong celebration designed to help showcase the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning runs Feb. 8-15. To help schools and students celebrate, NCRA has made available a vast number of resources, ranging from press release templates to media messages specific to schools, to help spread the word about this wonderful profession. These and other resources, including many that are customizable, are available at NCRA.org/home/events.

Other resources available to help mark the week include logos and graphics for use on social media platforms and emails, as well as customizable business cards and flyers.

Downy Adult School, Downy, Calif., has already made plans to celebrate 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week by hosting a variety of different activities, including a pajama day where students and faculty will enjoy cupcakes embellished with the “For the love of steno” message and a hat day. There will also be an “I scream for steno” day where participants will make T-shirts celebrating court reporting and captioning, enjoy ice cream cones, and watch the court reporting documentary, For the Record. The school also has planned a bake sale, a wear-red-and-pink day, and raffles for students to win prizes.

SimplySteno, an online court reporting program based in Tigard, Ore., will be celebrating Court Reporting & Captioning Week by allowing free online screenings of the court reporting documentary For the Record. According to the program’s founder, Marc Greenberg, CRI, who created the documentary, anyone can view the film for free by going to https://vimeo.com/ondemand/fortherecord and selecting the “rent” option, clicking on the “Apply promo code” link, and using SIMPLYSTENO as the code. The free screenings will be available from Feb. 8-15.

In Chicago, Ill., students at MacCormac College will be hosting a Court Reporting & Captioning Week interactive question-and-answer session and reception on Feb. 10 at 10 a.m.  The session will feature guest speaker NCRA member Isaiah Roberts, RPR. According to Selena Scott, J.D., the college’s program director, Roberts is “quite popular with younger reporters and even did live captioning at Coachella this past summer.  He will speak to the students and answer their questions about life on the ‘other side’ of the RPR. There will also be several other court reporters from the professional community on hand to answer questions as well.”

The College of Court Reporting (CCR), Valparaiso, Ind., will host NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, a firm owner and court reporter from Franklin, Tenn., as a guest speaker during Court Reporting & Captioning Week. Curry will speak to students, alumni, and the general public about the importance of the court reporting profession, the role schools play in educating students, and the value of being an NCRA member. 

According to Natalie Kijurna, director of alumni and employer relations for CCR, the college also plans to highlight its amazing alumni in their chosen field by running a social media campaign based on the “For the Love of Steno” theme, as well as a takeover of its Snapchat account by alumni so they can spread the word about court reporting and captioning. Other plans to celebrate include having a court reporting professional host a Facebook Live sometime during the week to spread the word about how important it is to practice in order to reach your goals, whether it’s achieving exit speeds or your next certification.  During the live Facebook event, CCR is also going to challenge their students and students at participating schools who use EV360 software to practice as much as possible. The top three students who practice the most will win prizes.

Remember to share how you celebrate the week by sending information about and photos of your event to NCRA’s Communications Team at pr@ncra.org. Everyone is also encouraged to share his or her activities on social media using the hashtags #CRCW20 and #DiscoverSteno.

And don’t forget, be sure to check out NCRA’s resources for 2020 Court Reporting & Captioning Week for the most up-to-date materials designed to help you celebrate the week and beyond.

Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR) Skills Test registration open until Feb. 20

Registration is open for aspiring court reporters to test in March 2020 for a new NCRA certification, the Registered Skilled Reporter (RSR). This new designation will recognize those stenographic professionals who are looking to validate their beginning level of competency.

“Those new professionals who make the commitment to earn the RSR are also showing their commitment to continuing their skills and proficiency through professional practice while earning an income,” said NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, Franklin, Tenn.

Earning the RSR will demonstrate an ability to hold a verified level of skill to current and potential clients, current and potential employers, and fellow reporters.

Created as a stepping-stone credential to ultimately achieving the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) designation, the RSR certification will offer the prestige of an NCRA certification for those new or returning to the court reporting profession who have yet to be able to get their writing speeds up enough to earn the RPR.

Current or aspiring stenographic reporters are eligible to earn the RSR and do not need to be members of NCRA to take the certification’s tests.

Candidates seeking the RSR need to pass three, five-minute Skills Tests:

RSR Literary at 160 words per minute

RSR Jury Charge at 180 words per minute

RSR Testimony/Q&A at 200 words per minute

To pass, an accuracy level of 95 percent is required for each leg. Passed RPR skills tests cannot be used toward earning the RSR.

There is a critical need for qualified, competent stenographers, and the RSR certification will help employers differentiate among candidates applying for these opportunities.

“When you earn the RSR, you have an opportunity to continue learning but begin to enjoy the personal satisfaction of seeing your skills used in professional practice and earn income while you continue your learning,” said NCRA Vice President Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC of Woodland, Utah. “It’s a win/win!”

Visit the NCRA website for more information.

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.

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.

Coping with test anxiety

By Kay Moody

“Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to advance.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt, inaugural address, 1933

Students repeatedly say they miss passing a test because of nerves or test anxiety. Almost all court reporters will tell you they experienced nervousness and shaking hands on tests, but they learned how to cope with test anxiety! There are proven relaxation techniques.

  1. EXERCISE: 
    1. Release tension with what’s known as the “tense-relax method.”  Make a fist; clench your fists as hard as you can. Keep them tightly clenched as long as possible. Then relax. For total relaxation, clench your fists, tighten your jaw, straighten your legs, and tense your abdomen all at once—right before a test. Then let go and take a deep breath. 
    2. Do a mini-aerobic workout: 10 jumping jacks, sit-ups, touch your toes, run in place for five minutes, etc. If you have a treadmill, run on it until you’re breathing deeply.
  2. IMAGING: To relieve tension during a test, use guided imagery. Before taking a test, relax completely and take a quick fantasy trip. Close your eyes; relax your body; and imagine yourself in a beautiful, peaceful, pastoral setting. Create as much of the scene as you can. Use all your senses: soft music, a candle, perfume, aroma therapy.
  3. BE POSITIVE: Substitute negative thoughts and emotions with pleasant, positive images: eating a hot fudge sundae, taking a nap on the beach, seeing your best friend, hugging a loved one, having a romantic weekend, etc. Think about these positive images before and during a test. Put a small picture of your favorite fantasy in front of you and look at it during the test. Take the test with a smile on your face. Post a happy emoji on your machine. 
  4. IMPROVE YOUR PHYSICAL WELL-BEING: There are a number of reasons you’re nervous.
    1. Too much caffeine:  coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate.
    2. Skipping meals, particularly breakfast. 
    3. Holding your breath. Breathe deeply while working on speed building dictation. When you feel nervous, inhale deeply.
    4. Poor circulation. Drop your head between your knees and stay in that position for a few minutes.
    5. Lack of endorphins. Laughter creates endorphins. Laugh hard.  Laugh out loud or silently. Laugh until your sides ache. Laugh for a couple of minutes.
    6. Cold hands and cold feet. Put on shoes and socks. Cold feet produce shaking hands. Keep both your feet and hands warm. 
    7. Not enough rest. Get a good night’s sleep before test day.
  5. USE VISUALIZING TECHNIQUES:  Feel professional. Dress properly to perform better. If you feel like a professional, it will be easier to imagine that you are a professional court reporter.
  6. KEEP A TEST DIARY: Divide each page into two sections: “Strong Tests” and “Weak Tests.” Keep a journal of what you did prior to the strong tests and/or prior to the weak tests. Indicate the following:
    1. What did you eat or drink before the test? 
    2. Did you have a cigarette right before a test?
    3. What time of day/night did you take the test? Was it at the beginning or end of the week? 
    4. Did you warm up before the test? What material did you use? How fast was your warm-up material?
    5. Did you have a focal point during the test?
    6. Did you practice breathing? visualizing? exercising?
    7. What did you think about during the test?
    8. Were you rested? Did you get a good night’s sleep?

In conclusion, don’t let anxiety prevent you from passing a test. Identify why you’re nervous; apply specific relaxation techniques prior to and during a test; and adjust your surroundings to help you stay calm and focused.