Follow #NCRA19 and get updates from the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo online

Whether you are on-site or holding down the home front during the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo, on Aug. 15-18 in Denver, Colo., be sure to follow along with all that’s happening at special sessions, networking events, the Expo floor, and more by checking in with TheJCR.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Throughout the Convention, NCRA will be posting updates on TheJCR.com as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #NCRA19.

Kelli Ann Willis will post for @ncraofficial on Thu. & Sat.

Be sure to follow us on Instagram for three exciting takeover days. Kelli Ann Willis, RPR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Hutchinson, Kan., and member of NCRA’s Technology Committee, will be in charge of our Instagram on Thursday and Saturday.

Shaunise Day will take over @ncraofficial on Fri.

Shaunise Day, a member of NCRA’s PAC trustees and court reporting student from Oakland, Calif., will be taking over our Instagram on Friday when she will give a first-hand student’s view of Convention.

Follow along for important information for attendees as well as breaking news for members who are keeping up with the action from home. Everyone is encouraged to join the conversation and share their stories from Denver.

NCRA announces first A to Z Scholarship recipients

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

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

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

  • Have completed an NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program;
  • Have received an NCRA A to Z™ Certificate of Completion;
  • Have attained an exemplary academic record;
  • Have passed one skills test writing 60-100 words per minute at the time of submission.

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

NCRA announces 2019 CASE Student Scholarships

NCRA has announced the winners of the 2019 CASE (Council on Approved Student Education) Student Scholarships. The winners were chosen based on their winning entries in an essay writing contest. The essay question was “Describe the importance of earning your Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification as a new professional.”

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.

Philip A. Dawson

Philip A. Dawson, a student at the Community College of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Pa., secured the top spot by winning the $1,500 scholarship. “I am honored to be a recipient of the CASE Student Scholarship. My training as a court reporter has been a life changing experience. The teachers and reporters I have met along the way have been truly great people that earnestly want me to succeed and I am grateful for their support,” he said. “This scholarship is a testament to their support and a tremendous help to me and my family, as it will aide in the transition from school to my new career as a court reporter and will allow us to care for our needs while also enable us to spend value time in our volunteer work.”

Lora Zabiran

Recipient of the $1,000 scholarship was Lora Zabiran, a student at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. “Winning this scholarship has made me feel included and not forgotten being only the second Canadian recipient so far,” said Zabiran. “I am honored by being chosen, and I’m thankful for the prize.”

Julie Layton

Julie Layton, a student at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, said she was both thrilled and honored to be the recipient of a $750 scholarship. “This award is helping to pay for my start-up equipment which a great start to my career,” she said. “Thank you for this opportunity you have given me.”

Patricia Lopez

The essay written by Patricia Lopez, a student at the College of Court Reporting, Valparaiso, Ind., earned her a $500 CASE scholarship. “Receiving the scholarship will help me accomplish my dream of becoming a court reporter and will provide me the opportunity to create a better life for my family,” she said. “I love the court reporting profession, and it is truly an honor to be part of this community,” Lopez added.

Lydia Palcuk, a student at MacCormac College, Chicago, Ill., was awarded a $250 scholarship. In her essay, Palcuk wrote that earning her RPR is a goal she cannot wait to accomplish. She recently passed her 180 words per minute speed and noted that she loves getting to see the progress she is making every day through her hard work.

Lydia Palcuk

“As important as it is to get through school, looking toward the goal of becoming a RPR is also vital,” Palcuk wrote. “I want to be as certified as I possibly can be in my career, and that is why getting the RPR means the world to me. When you earn that certification, you have the confidence to know you are accredited I your career.”

The winners will be recognized at an awards luncheon being held at NCRA’s 2019 Convention & Expo being held Aug. 15-18 in Denver, Colo.

For more information about the CASE Scholarships, contact Ellen Goff, NCRA Assistant Director, Professional Development at egoff@ncra.org, or visit NCRA.org.


Top 10 reasons to attend the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo

Maybe you have already registered for the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo in Denver, Colo. August 15-18. Or maybe you are still trying to decide whether to go. Up-to-Speed offers the top 10 reasons why students should take advantage of the great opportunity.

  1. Special student discount pricing. Student members pay only $150 for a full registration; student nonmembers: $235. Registration includes complete student track seminars, 3-day Expo Hall pass, Meet & Greet Reception with NCRA Board, Opening Reception, Premier Session, and Awards Luncheon.
  2. Networking. The NCRA Convention & Expo is the largest gathering of court reporters and captioners in the country, so students have a good chance of meeting a wide range of working professionals. “Really be open-minded about working reporters sincerely wanting to help you because they are so passionate about this profession,” said Sarah Hamilton, a student at the College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind.
  3. Knowledge. With sessions aimed specifically for students – such as “Good Reporter/Bad Reporter,” “Steno Speed Dating,” and “You Want Me to Do What” – attendees will learn tips and strategies to help them succeed during school and after they graduate.
  4. Motivation. “Going to convention as a student was something I looked forward to every year,” said Callie Sajdera, a graduate of Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn. who is a presenter this year. “The convention always gave me a rejuvenating feeling and motivated me to push myself through school. Whenever I am running low on motivation, it seems to be just around convention time!”
  5. Community. Convention is a great way to build relationships with other students, especially for those who attend online programs. “Hearing stories from others who have had the same struggles is encouraging, said Michael Roberts, a student at Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta, Ga., “because you find out you’re not the only one dealing with these conflicts.”
  6. Meet the NCRA Board. Students are invited to a special meet and greet with the NCRA Board of Directors
  7. Premier Session with Keynote Speaker. Attend the Premier Session with Erin Brokovich, national recognized consumer advocate and environmental advocate.
  8. Expo Hall. Student registration includes access to the Expo Hall, where they can view products and demonstrations by vendors.
  9. NCRA. Learn more about what your association can do for you.
  10. Denver, Colo. Visit the Mile High City while you are in town for the convention!

Register here

Find full event schedule here

View Student Track Sessions

A student asks, “Why am I here?”

Stephanie Famber

By Stephanie Famber

Last Spring, Stephanie Famber attended Georgia United, a seminar sponsored by the Georgia Court Reporters Association in Atlanta, Ga. “In Georgia,” Famber says, “as in several other states, we can now face the woes of court reporting together as a stronger, larger family. I hope we can set a good example and encourage others to follow.”

Why am I here? Those are the first words written in my notes from the Georgia United, 2019 Spring Seminar in Atlanta, Ga., hosted by the Georgia Court Reporters Association (GCRA) Mind you, those words were written roughly 30 minutes into a 12-hour seminar. No, it’s not what you think. I didn’t get bored of the speaker, start doodling and regret my decision to give up what could turn out to be a very long Saturday. “Why am I here?” is a far more profound question. We’ll get there in a minute.

My name is Stephanie. I am excited to say I am a court reporting student. I currently attend Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta, Ga., as a full-time student with a full-time job. This is only my third month as a court reporting student. I know I am as green as they come. I’m still shopping for my student writer and haven’t even started theory yet. I have a lot to learn, but I am all in and full speed ahead. Why else would I have given up a precious weekend for some seminar? Well, I have heard several seasoned reporters speak. One of the recurring themes I have heard is, “Join your association; be active.” Man, am I glad I did!

After a fantastic icebreaker about assumptions, the first GCRA speaker cut right to the chase and dove into their main topic, communication. The group dialogue began with how we can alter our behavior and speech to potentially change negative assumptions about ourselves or others. When the speaker opened the floor for topics relevant to a court reporter’s life, that’s when things got juicy. We went through the range of FAQs and how to best communicate an answer to them. “Aren’t you just typing really fast?” “When will you graduate?” “Aren’t you worried AI will take over your job?” “What do you do anyway?” And there it was, the first tough question as a new student that I didn’t know how to answer. I know what we do, but how do I explain that to someone outside of our world? Why ARE we here?

Now let’s back up to one of the other questions, “Aren’t you worried AI will take over your job?” The topic of electronic recordings in the courtroom was brought up several times by concerned court reporters and addressed by multiple speakers from a different perspective. As a brand-new student at the beginning of my journey to become a court reporter, I know very little in general, and even less about the adversity that is faced daily in the working profession. It was unsettling, albeit brief, to hear so many concerns in such a short amount of time.

Christine Phipps, the Vice President of NCRA, was a very comforting speaker. As both a seasoned court reporter and court reporting firm owner, Christine was able to speak with contagious confidence backed by years of experience. Christine is based in Florida, where she is all too familiar with the struggles brought by electronic recording encroaching on court reporters. She has seen big electronic recording companies swoop in and convince the right people to switch to electronic recording. She spoke of the period and struggles after the switch to or testing of electronic recording. As Christine chronicled some of her experiences, I found myself relaxing back into my chair, reassured by the logic and reason displayed by the lawyers and attorneys she mentioned as they came to realize the inferiority of an uncertified transcript produced from an electronic recording. A few moments later, I was sitting at attention again, as she preached passionately about our value as court reporters. Christine went as far as to say some Florida lawyers began to cancel depositions on the spot once they realized an electronic recorder had been sent in lieu of a court reporter. You, as a court reporter, are valuable. You may be underappreciated or taken for granted at times, but people definitely notice when you are gone.

Before attending the seminar, I had already heard or read stories of bias regarding which type of court reporter is better. It saddens me to realize this bias is so readily impressed upon those entering the world of court reporting. In my dealings at the seminar, it was apparent from the speech of some and the side comments of others that this bias is a real and present danger to the court reporting community. And yet, there is hope for a more united future. I spoke with several individuals who were considering changing their method of reporting. Some voice writers were ready to take on a new challenge, while other steno writers were tired of using their hands constantly. I was grateful to find a plentiful number of reporters to whom the style of takedown did not matter. If a voice writer and a steno writer can produce the exact same quality of transcript, does the method of takedown even matter? Can one method even logically be superior if the end result is exactly the same? I do not believe so.

Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The birth of GCRA has dissolved our division and united our previously separated court reporting associations. In Georgia, as in several other states, we can now face the woes of court reporting together as a stronger, larger family. I hope we can set a good example and encourage others to follow. I would like to thank GCRA for putting together such a wonderful inaugural seminar. This was an invaluable learning experience, and the seminar as a whole felt reassuring. I am optimistic about the future of court reporting. I can’t wait to join such a wonderful profession.

Stephanie Famber is a student at Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta, Ga.

Sharing steno in Taiwan

By Logan Kislingbury

Logan Kislingbury

In late May, I had the pleasure of introducing stenography to a class of freshmen students of sociology at Fu Jen University in Taiwan. I was vacationing there when a good friend of mine, who is a professor at the university, invited me to teach one of her classes about stenography and my life as a court reporting student.

The students had never heard of stenography or seen a steno machine before, and the curiosity on their faces was showing. I started out by explaining why we use steno machines, which is to capture the spoken word and accurately transcribe it. To do this at high speeds, writing one letter at a time, such as on a QWERTY keyboard, wouldn’t be possible.

I opened my CAT software and overlaid my live stroke monitor on the screen. This is a Lightspeed feature that shows a live view of your keys, which change color when pressed. I showed how the keyboard had multiples of certain letters such as S, D, and R, and lacked other letters, like Q or M. I explained how we use multiple keys to write letters that the machine is missing.

Then, I wrote some basic sentences, and the students were enthused by how entire words could come up instantly. I then showed them phrases such as at that time, do you remember, and would you agree. They now understood how we can keep up with speakers by writing entire words and phrases instantly.

Next, I wanted to show off the upper limits of briefing and phrasing. I showed them the popular phrase “ladies and gentlemen of the jury” in one stroke. For the coup de grâce, I asked who knew the longest English word. To my surprise, one girl actually knew it and pronounced it well. I asked the class to guess how long it would take me to write this word. After seeing my previous demonstrations, they knew it would be fast. Some guessed 5, 10, 15 seconds. I quickly stroked my way of writing pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, which is NAOUM/NAOUM. In less than half a second, the longest English word popped up on the screen to the amusement of the students.

Lastly, I wanted to show the students how we aren’t limited to only writing words we know. My Chinese skills are very limited, but I asked for a volunteer to slowly speak Chinese to me for about 15 seconds. I sounded out what I heard as best as I could and read back from my steno notes. Apart from the tones, I read back nearly exactly what the student had said. I understood less than half of it, but apparently I did well because the class burst into a surprised applause.

After I was finished, students came up to look at the machine and ask some questions about steno. I couldn’t believe how interested they were! It was such a wonderful experience to show them, and maybe they’ll be able to work with steno in the future. 

Logan Kislingbury is a court reporting student attending the Mark Kislingbury Academy of Court Reporting in Houston, Texas. He can be reached at logankislingbury@gmail.com.

Students and new professionals, don’t miss the chance to apply for these scholarships and grants

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) is accepting nominations for the Robert H. Clark and Frank Sarli Memorial scholarships for students, as well as applications for the New Professional Reporter Grant. The June 1 deadline to apply for each of these awards is approaching fast. Now is the time to make sure you have all your paperwork in order.

The Robert H. Clark and Frank Sarli Memorial scholarships are awarded to high-achieving students nearing the end of their court reporting program who meet a number of criteria, including being a current student member in NCRA, passing at least one Q&A test at a minimum of 200 wpm, and achieving a GPA of at least 3.5 based on a 4.0 standard.

“This has given me an extra boost of motivation and confidence I needed while I head into my final semester,” said Megan Baeten upon receiving the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship in 2018. “It will help me with the cost of schooling for this last semester without the added stress of how I will pay for it. It will also help me with some of the start-up expenses upon graduating, as well as the certification fees.”

The New Professional Reporter Grant is given to a promising working reporter in his or her first year out of school who meets a number of criteria. These include maintaining a current NCRA membership, graduating with a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 standard, and submitting a recommendation from the person’s current employer.

Beginning this year, all NCRF scholarships are open to NCRA student members enrolled in any court reporting program, not just NCRA approved programs. In addition, the New Professional Reporter Grant is now open to qualifying graduates of any court reporting program.

More scholarships and other NCRF programs can be found by visiting NCRA.org/NCRF.

NCRA A to Z Alumna Profile: From A to Z to RPR in two years

Taylor Lauren Nirschl

Next month, NCRA will have its first known court reporting program graduate who started in an NCRA A to ZTM  Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program. Taylor Lauren Nirschl from Combined Locks, Wis., will be graduating in May with an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Court Reporting from Lakeshore Technical College, and she will also have another credential behind her name: RPR. Nirschl has some advice for students who are considering taking an A to Z program.

JCR | Is court reporting your first choice of career?

TLN | I would say yes, since my dad has been talking to me about court reporting since seventh grade. My dad works at a workforce development center. I did change my mind a couple of times, but I would always come back to court reporting.

JCR | What attracted you to learn more about it?

TLN | My dad told me how much money court reporters made.  As a seventh grader, that really got my attention. But as I got older, my attraction was more about the technology they use on their job, being in a courtroom, and just thinking about how important their job really is.

JCR | How did you hear about the NCRA A to Z program?

TLN | My parents mentioned that I should go sit with someone to see if this was something I wanted to do. I went back to the school to see if I could get a recommendation on a local court reporter to shadow, and that’s when I met Lori Baldauf.  While I was asking questions about shadowing a court reporter, Lori gave me a flyer about the program.

JCR | What prompted you to sign up for the program?

TLN | I had already signed up for the court reporting program [at Lakeshore Technical College] before I signed up for the A to Z program. I was waiting for school to begin. When Lori shared the information, I decided to sign up.

JCR | What surprised you most about learning steno in the A to Z program?

TLN | How you must learn a whole new alphabet; and the letters are not on the keys. The way you learn how to remember the keys. 

JCR | How soon after completing the A to Z program did you enroll in Lakeshore Technical College?

TLN | I took A to Z in the spring of 2017 and started court reporting school in the summer of 2017. I’m waiting to graduate next month!

JCR | Did you test for any NCRA certifications while in school?

TLN | Yes, I did.  I took the three legs of the RPR certification from October through December 2018 and the Written Knowledge Test in January 2019.  I passed the Written Knowledge Test my first time taking it. When I passed my Lit leg at school, I took the Lit leg of the RPR. It took me two times to pass the Lit leg, but only one time to pass the Jury and Testimony legs. I found testing for the RPR after I passed my legs in school helped me stay on track. I also had an added incentive from my teacher: get my RPR and I’m done with classes.  

JCR | What do you plan to do when you graduate – official, freelancer, broadcast captioner, CART provider?

TLN | I’d like to take a little break since I’ve gone straight through school. However, I would love to work in the court where Lori works, but they don’t have an opening yet. I’ve thought about doing CART.

JCR | What would you say to others considering career choices to encourage them to enroll in the NCRA A to Z program?

TLN | I would definitely encourage anyone interested in court reporting to take the NCRA A to Z program. I think that is what got me through school so fast. It gives you a great head start above everyone else. You already know your letters, so you are able to focus on your short forms and theory. I also think I had more confidence when I started the program and when I attended orientation. When I attended orientation, we got an opportunity to write on the machines. I remembered my letters and easy words like “egg.” I also already knew a few people from participating in NCRA A to Z, which provided me with a ready-made community.

Taylor is currently working toward earning NCRA’s Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC) certification. For more information on the NCRA A to Z program or to learn about the court reporting and captioning professions, visit DiscoverSteno.org.

NCRF scholarships – open to qualifying students at any court reporting program

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) is now accepting nominations for the Robert H. Clark and Frank Sarli Memorial scholarships for students, as well as applications for the New Professional Reporter Grant. The deadline for all of these awards is June 1. Beginning this year, all NCRF scholarships are open to NCRA student members enrolled in any court reporting program, not just NCRA approved programs. The New Professional Reporter Grant is now open to qualifying graduates of any court reporting program.

The Robert H. Clark and Frank Sarli Memorial scholarships are awarded to high-achieving students nearing the end of their court reporting program who meet a number of criteria, including current student membership in NCRA, having passed at least one Q&A test at a minimum of 200 wpm, and a GPA of at least 3.5 based on a 4.0 standard.

 “This [scholarship] has given me an extra boost of motivation and confidence I needed while I head into my final semester,” said Megan Baeten upon receiving the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship in 2018. “It will help me with the cost of schooling for this last semester without the added stress of how I will pay for it. It will also help me with some of the start-up expenses upon graduating, as well as the certification fees.”

The New Professional Reporter Grant is given to a promising working reporter in his/her first year out of school who meets a number of criteria, including current NCRA membership, a graduating GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 standard, and a recommendation from the person’s current employer.

Students looking for scholarships can also consider the CASE scholarships and NCRA A to Z ™ scholarships. Deadlines for these two scholarships, which are also supported by funds from NCRF, have been extended to April 19.

More scholarships and other NCRF programs can be found by visiting NCRA.org/NCRF.

Remember to nominate for awards and scholarships, including the all-new NCRA A to Z scholarships

Time is running out to recognize someone special! Every year, NCRA offers members several scholarships and awards to bring attention to the people who are contributing to the profession in important ways. In addition to the annual scholarships managed by the Council on Approved Student Education (CASE), the National Court Reporters Foundation has initiated an all-new scholarship to help students who have completed the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program with the next step in their training. Scholarships are supported by funds from the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF).

Nominations are now open, so consider nominating individuals for these special opportunities:

CASE scholarships. Five scholarships are available. Students attending an NCRA-approved court reporting program and writing between 140 and 180 wpm are encouraged to apply for this scholarship. Teachers and mentors, let them know that you see their potential. The nomination period closes April 1.  

NCRA A to Z ™ scholarshipsUp to 10 students will receive a $500 scholarship. Qualified applicants must have completed the NCRA A to Z™ Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program as well as pass a skills test writing between 60 and 100 wpm, among other eligibility requirements. Nominations close April 1.

 CASE Educator of the YearThis special award is for a court reporting instructor. Was there someone special who inspired you, who got you through the ups, downs, and plateaus of your court reporting classes? If your teacher was an incredible influence in you getting started, now is the time to say thank you by nominating that special someone for the CASE Educator of the Year Award. Nominations close April 1.

Fellow of the Academy of Professional ReportersIf you know a dedicated court reporter or captioner who has contributed to the profession in a big way over the years, nominate that person as a Fellow. Candidates must be active practitioners in the field and have at least 10 years of experience. Criteria for nomination include the publication of important papers, legislative or creative contributions to the field, and service on committees or boards. Nominations close April 1.