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.

Listen to a steno podcast … or create one of your own

Podcasts aren’t just for true crime anymore. They can be a creative teaching tool in the stenography classroom. Both instructors and students can create their own podcasts to aid in practice, concentration, and readback. Professional podcasts, too, offer a unique resource for students as they offer insight into the working lives of seasoned court reporters and captioners. Carol Adams, RPR, MCRI, distance education director at Huntington Junior College in W.V., breaks it all down for Up-to-Speed.

Podcasts are extremely popular today. According to PodcastInsights.com, as of 2020 there are more than 900,000podcasts and more than 30 million episodes. Here are additional statistics from PodcastInsights.com:

In the United States:

  • 51 percent (144 million) of the population has listened to a podcast
  • 32 percent (90 million) listen to podcasts at least every month
  • 22 percent (62 million) listen to podcasts weekly
  • 16 million people in the United States are “avid podcast fans”
  • 56 percent of podcast listeners are male

Age of listeners:

  • 12-24: 40 percent
  • 25-54: 39 percent
  • 55+: 17 percent

So, what is a podcast? A podcast is an audio program usually focused on a particular subject. The most popular podcasts are comedy, followed by education and news. There are numerous podcasts on science, parenting, politics, history, and true crime. There are series about cats, cults, sneakers, and Harry Potter! Whatever your interests, there are podcasts out there for you, and if your hobbies or concerns aren’t represented, maybe it’s time you started a podcast!

So now that we’ve established that podcasts are a popular form of digital media, let’s talk about the benefits of using podcasts in education. There are three ways podcasting can be utilized in reporting education:

1.            Instructor podcasts

2.            Student podcasts

3.            Professional podcasts

Let’s start with instructor podcasts. Whether you are teaching online or campus classes, podcasts can be an excellent way to enhance readings for the week. As an instructor you can create a podcast emphasizing the important take-aways from the textbook or review for a quiz. A podcast enables your busy students to listen while driving in the car, exercising at the gym, or while performing other activities, whereas a video or textbook requires the students’ full, undivided attention. Students who are not great readers or who don’t comprehend what they read can benefit from audio learning. A podcast doesn’t have to be a lecture; it can be reminders or encouraging words from you. This type of learning is on demand and on-the-go. Most students have a smart phone, so podcasts are easily accessible.

A great learning activity is to have your students generate podcasts. Podcast creation employs critical thinking, organizational, and speaking skills that will be so crucial during readbacks. When students author and explain a subject, they are educating peers and increasing their knowledge on that topic. Students can divide up legal terms for the week and produce recordings with the term, the definition, and a short illustration of how the term is used in context. Students can use this podcast to learn the definitions, plus incorporate it into practice dictation. Those in speedbuilding can make podcasts on practice tips for new students looking for guidance. Interning students can create podcasts about their experiences for those who will soon follow in their footsteps. Any writing assignment can be transformed into a podcast assignment.

Finally, invite professionals in the field into your class through podcasts. There are podcasts on professional dress, law, grammar tips, and interviews with reporters and captioners discussing aspects of the field that may not be adequately covered in textbooks. Here are a few examples for you to check out:

  • Stenographers World: This podcast features interviews with superstar reporters and captioners such as Mark Kislingbury and Marty Block.
  • Modern Court Reporter: The Modern Court Reporter focuses on issues important to judicial reporters. For example, the latest podcast with Jean Hammond emphasizes the role of a professional proofreader.
  • Confessions of a Stenographer: Topics related to reporting and captioning in this podcast include maintaining a work/life balance and the exciting career of a reporter on Capitol Hill.

Creating a podcast is quite simple. Audacity is a free, easy to use tool. I’ve created a short video to demonstrate the process.

I challenge you to change your teaching strategy up a bit and incorporate some new technology. Your students will appreciate convenient study tools at their disposal, the opportunity to produce learning material for fellow students, and the knowledge acquired by turning in to the real world of court reporting and captioning.

Be a part of NCRA’s first-ever virtual conference!

Gear up for a new experience! NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 is happening Aug. 7-9 offering nearly three days of educational sessions, vendor presentations, and networking opportunities. Choose from a number of sessions to attend live and have access to recorded sessions through midnight Aug. 25. Students can purchase a full registration package for the special price of $60 members/$75 nonmembers.

NCRA Connect 2020 is the Association’s first-ever virtual conference, that will feature live events. Participants will have access to a variety of informative and interesting educational sessions, a dynamic keynote presentation, and numerous networking opportunities packed with fun, games, and prizes, and much more.

See the complete schedule of sessions including networking opportunities, exhibitor showcases, and the virtual vendor hall at NCRA.org.

“As we all start to settle into our new normal, NCRA is excited to bring its annual Conference & Expo to you, wherever your new normal may be. Please join your Board of Directors, colleagues, and friends at NCRA Connect Virtual 2020,” said NCRA President-elect Christine Phipps, RPR, a firm owner from North Palm Beach, Fla. Phipps will be installed as 2020-2021 President during the General Session happening on Aug. 8.

“This virtual conference is a first for NCRA, and I encourage everyone to pull up a chair, a couch, or whatever your choice of seating maybe these days and get ready to enjoy the insights of a dynamic keynote speaker, a variety of educational sessions popping with valuable information to help you grow professionally, and ample networking opportunities,” she added.

Attendees also will have the opportunity to participate in a number of specialty networking sessions geared toward officials, freelancers, captioners, 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.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend an NCRA conference in person, let NCRA Connect 2020 be the perfect first-time opportunity. With low registration fees, no travel or hotel costs, and the ability to access all of the sessions up to 14 days after the event, there’s no reason not to attend.

“NCRA in-person national conventions have been occurring almost every year since the first one was held in 1899. Be a part of history in the making as we turn a new technological chapter in the 121-year evolution of NCRA,” Phipps added.

Special student sessions:

Success as an Online Student

A successful working reporter who was an entirely online student and one of her online instructors will discuss strategies for success in school. Topics will include organization, setting goals, and the mental game plan to pass those tests!

Presenters: Jensen Wohlegmuth and Kelly Moranz, CRI


Controlling your Subconscious

Teresa Russ, CRI

Attendees will be trained to control negative self-talk by utilizing affirmations. NCRA member Teresa Russ, CRI, will share exercises to help you implement affirmations in your own life, as well as teach you how to create a strategy when taking tests and then how to execute that strategy. A short video entitled “The Zone” by NCRA Mark Kislingbury, FAPR, RDR, CRR, will be shown, with a discussion and exercises to follow. Attendees will be encouraged to see themselves as an athlete — a stenoathlete.

Presenter: Teresa Russ, CRI


Understanding the Profession After Graduation

So, you have put in all the work to graduate and have your résumé ready; now what? What certifications do you need? What kinds of questions do you ask when interviewing? Are benefits available? Software? How are you paid? What are the salary ranges across the country? Get answers to these questions and more. Become confident in your professional knowledge now that you have the skills necessary to begin your career.

Presenters: Barbara Galarno, RPR, CRI; Court Petros, RPR

For the full schedule and to register visit the NCRA website. Remember, sessions will be available to view through midnight Aug. 25, so you won’t have to worry about missing a minute of this virtual experience.

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.

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

Stenopalooza inspires student

By Angela Rojo

Did anyone else see posts about Stenopalooza on social media? I can hear my teachers and other professionals in the industry telling me to put my phone down and to get back on my writer. Admittedly, social media is one of my weaknesses and such a time sucker. Anyway, Dineen Squillante, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Arlington, Vt., first planted the seed of attending Stenopalooza in one of her posts. After being invited to the Steno Strong group by Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from North Brunswick, N.J., and catching the infectious positive energy found there, signing up for the all-day seminar was a no-brainer.

I say no-brainer only because being aware of the trends in the industry will help me to be more effective once I transition from the role of student to that of Certified Shorthand Reporter (CSR). I want to be able to advocate compellingly for the profession (read, advocate compellingly for myself). My choice to attend Stenopalooza was fueled by my desire to become an in-demand, California CSR. I am a single mom, and school is tough. However, my family would be underserved if I failed to seek information readily available pertaining to my chosen future profession. Honing my writing skill is only one of the elements of playing a vital role in either the system of justice or providing an important service for those with hearing impairments. What do you depend on to stay informed? I depend on my teachers, coach, association conventions, and training events. Oh, and social media.

Out of the nine webinars I watched during Stenopalooza, my favorites were the Lights, Action, ZOOM – Improving the New Normal; Captioning Facebook Live; and POW Knowledge is Power and NCRA is FLEXING. These were among my favorites because I think of them as double-dipping. I learned practical tips and skills that can be utilized immediately in school, and they will also serve me well in my future as a professional.

The presentation about Zoom helped pinpoint some of the connection problems I’ve been running into while transitioning with my school’s now online classes. There were a few absolute light bulb moments! Hello, mesh router!

Completely over the top was the Facebook Live class. Denise Hinxman, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Reno, Nev., expertly walked attendees through clear steps. The presenters began with teaching us to seek out untapped and out-of-the-box opportunities, transitioned to training clients previously unfamiliar with the elevated service value, and really guided us through all the areas necessary to providing a polished, valuable service. My words dull the class a bit, but this presentation had serious value. Dineen ended the seminar with the words, “If we don’t market ourselves, nobody will do it for us.” Let that sink in. “Not out-skilled. We’ll be out-marketed.” Not to strike fear at all, but rather action. Her words prompted me to sit up straighter and pay closer attention. “Don’t assume that all lawyers and consumers of our products know that — what this job entails and the importance and sanctity that comes with it.” 

With all the resources available to us as students, it really is up to us to pass those tests and get out of school. I think of advocating and marketing ourselves as trusted, ethical professionals in the same way. It’s up to us.

In five years – nope, make that one year — I want to be prepared to have a meaningful conversation when the opportunity arises to advocate for myself. Like Rich said, “Look for someone who’s advocating and try to follow.” There are local and national groups, like Steno Strong, where students are invited to participate and get to know our future peers. I encourage you to do so. There are valuable resources available in each group and association I’ve encountered. Don’t be intimidated to get out there and introduce yourself. Attending the Stenopalooza Happy Hour event was a fun opportunity to “see” reporters relaxed and real. Students, we will be out there with our licenses and certifications sooner rather than later. Why not jump in on the socializing and educational activities now? I hope to see you next time!

Angela Rojo is a 180 word-per-minute student attending Argonaut/Charles A. Jones Court Reporter Program in Sacramento, Calif.

If you would like to purchase a webinar from the Stenopalooza event, please visit NCRA’s Continuing Education catalog.

From streaming video games to streaming steno

Brian Binkney

By Brian Binkney

I was raised in rural Arizona and played video games and performed with my band around the state. I joined the U. S. Marine Corps in 1996 and served as a military policeman.  After I was discharged, in 2004, I continued my public service and became a law enforcement officer in Arizona, where I worked for the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and Kingman Police Department. I got to work with amazing people, serve my community, wake up with purpose, and care for my family.

At about 40, I was still looking for what I wanted to do because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a state of vigilance. I wanted to have purpose but not brace for a fight. I wanted to be able to relax for the first time in more than 20 years and let my body have a break. As I was looking, I worked in a local brewery that was just starting. I sold beer and talked about something I loved, traveling all over Arizona putting on events and getting the beer onto taps. I also worked as a substitute teacher mainly with middle school kids who had behavior problems. But I was still searching, thinking where to go and what to do. I was looking at job boards, looking for what to start, wondering what to do. And, somehow, the idea of court reporting came to me; probably from my wife who has all the great ideas and sees court reporters daily at the courthouse.

This is a profession that gives purpose, can be flexible, and ultimately felt like a challenge I could take on. I started at the College of Court Reporting in 2018 and attend through the Veteran Administration’s (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program. Having the assistance of the VA has made this new career choice possible. I push toward learning new skills and accepting the idea that this will take time. To that end, I decided to share it. I needed something to hold me accountable to my practice, so I decided to stream my practice sessions. I was not expecting anyone to watch. I also didn’t realize that no one else was doing this. I had started streaming video games as a way to stay connected to my family who is far away, so I would stream video games via Streamlabs to Facebook Live and Twitch. It would be me playing video games and chatting with people who were watching. As time went on, I figured I’d give streaming my practice sessions a shot.

Streaming my steno was just another way to share my day. It’s a lonely world of online school where it’s just you doing it. More and more people started following, and it was awesome to interact with other students and officials while practicing. It made it feel more like a classroom environment. The Streamlabs program lets me do scene transitions, overlays, etc. I am able to start a live stream for both Twitch and Facebook from within the program itself and allow people to chat with me. Streamlabs is kind of like my own little TV studio at home. 

Much to my surprise, people wanted to watch and interact. The positive reaction has been incredible and has created a community for me as I push through the difficult process of speed building toward graduation. I’m enjoying sharing what I do. My friends who have no exposure to stenography expressed interest and explained they had no idea what this was before. I also love building a steno community. People are watching me practice and practicing along usually on their own machines in their own CAT software. It’s like a huge practice session for anyone to join. 

Additionally, I appreciate that this holds me accountable to practice daily. I enjoy the conversations that are held during the stream between students and certified court reporters alike. There are funny stories, brief exchanges, and career advice freely exchanged. This is a community I am so proud to be a part of and that I am proud to represent. I finally have a plan for what I am going to do when I grow up.

Brian Binkney is a student at the College of Court reporting in Valparaiso, Ind. Brian’s livestreams can be found on Facebook at Stenogamer and at Twitch.tv/Stenogamer.

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.