South Bend woman finds her calling in the courthouse

The South Bend Tribune posted an interview on Aug. 24 with court reporting student and CASE Scholarship recipient Stephanie Oldeck about her career choice and also quotes NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR.

Read more.

San Antonio students awarded court reporter scholarships

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

Watch here.

Last chance for early access savings for NCRA Connect 2020!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Register now.

Blended learning

By Carol Adams

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education in our country. The quarantine forced schools to create online content quickly so students could continue their education virtually. Some teachers had to learn how to navigate the distance learning environment along with their students. Now that individual states are beginning to lift stay-at-home restrictions, many institutions are trying to balance how to offer face-to-face classes while keeping students and instructors safe and obeying social distancing and occupancy requirements. An answer to this may be blended learning.

Blended learning is instruction with both face-to-face and online components, also known as a hybrid course. Blended learning can offer the best of both traditional campus and online classes, one complementing the other. In today’s environment, one thought is to split classes into groups and have them alternate days on campus to maintain small class sizes. For example, a Monday/Wednesday/Friday class is split into three groups and each group attends campus classes on one day each week.

Here are a few benefits of utilizing blended learning courses:

  • Hybrid courses offer flexibility for students. They can access content at anytime, anywhere, which is important when juggling work and family.
  • Commuters are driving to campus fewer times a week, which saves time and gas money. 
  • Learners can review online content as many times as they need to master the concepts.
  • Streaming media – Ted Talks, podcasts, YouTube – allows students the opportunity to learn from outside resources and engage with professionals in the field.
  • Blended courses retain the human touch, plus the bonus of learning and interacting with new technology.
  • Classes with lab activities or other tasks that are difficult to complete virtually can be completed during the weekly classroom meeting.

There are challenges with implementing blended learning: 

  • There is an initial time investment for instructors, developing and then implementing content for two environments. Teachers may have difficulty managing the online classroom if they are not computer savvy.
  • Students with limited computer or internet access are going to struggle with the online component.
  • Learners who have issues with time management and organization may have trouble staying on task.

If you are interested in building a blended course, here are some additional considerations.  Start by focusing on the course objectives. Analyze what the students need to know when the course is completed, divide the material into manageable segments, and then organize the material into a weekly format. Look at the amount of time the students will be on campus each week and determine what learning activities would be best delivered face-to-face versus online. Best practices dictate that class time be used for discussion, group work, and tasks that cannot be completed virtually. Short lectures, voice-over PowerPoint presentations, podcasts, readings, and YouTube videos or other streaming media can be utilized for online learning content. Quizzes, discussion boards, worksheets, and blogs are all excellent online assessments to measure student success.

The syllabus must communicate both student and teacher expectations. Students need to know the best ways to communicate with you throughout the week and when they can expect feedback on assignments and responses to emails. The syllabus must set clear guidelines for student submissions and how the work will be evaluated. Learners need instruction on what is expected during classroom meetings and online each week.

Hybrid classes may be the answer for institutions in our current climate. If this model fits into your teaching strategy, my hope is these tips assist you in getting started.

Carol Adams, RPR, MCRI, is the Distance Education Director at Huntington Junior College in Huntington, W.V.

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 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.

Stenograph partners with NCRF to sponsor new student scholarship

The National Court Reporters Foundation is pleased to announce that nominations are being solicited for Stenograph’s Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, a new scholarship that honors the memory of Milton H. Wright, Stenograph’s founder.   Students from NCRA-approved reporter education programs are encouraged to apply for the merit-based two-year award, which is worth up to $5,000 per year and will include use of a student writer and software.

“Stenograph is proud to sponsor the newly created Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship,” said Stenograph President Anir Dutta. “We believe that by investing in our students and future students, through the NCRA’s A to Z Program, that we will positively impact the direction of this industry. It is an honor to be able to give back in this way.” 

This scholarship is offered through the National Court Reporters Foundation. Students must meet the eligibility requirements and submit the completed documentation listed below to qualify for the scholarship. Notification of the MHW Memorial Scholarship is sent each November to all NCRA-approved court reporting programs.

Applications being accepted through Feb. 14, 2020. 


To be eligible to apply for the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, students must meet the criteria below: 

  • Attend an NCRA-approved court reporting program
  • 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 (3.5 GPA or above)
  • Have passed one skills test writing 80-120 words per minute at the time of submission 

Document requirements

The following documents are required to be submitted for application:

  • Speed verification form
  • A copy of the student’s most recent transcript
  • A two-page, double-spaced essay responding to the following question: “Describe the role of technology in the future of reporting.”

Click here for more information or to access the application for the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship.

“Stenograph’s commitment to the future of the court reporting and captioning professions is reflected in the company’s generous support of the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, and NCRF and NCRA are honored to share this common goal with them,” said NCRA Senior Director of Education and Certification Cynthia Bruce Andrews.  

For more information on the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, please contact the Education Department at

Review: A Student Rates the NCRA Convention

by April Frederick

April Frederick

From seminars about live captioning Coachella to an inspiring keynote speech from Erin Brockovich; from high tea with professional speakers to speed dating with working reporters; from a Diamonds and Denim Gala to casual drinks at the hotel bar– every single minute of the conference was informative, enriching, fun, and inspiring.

My journey to becoming a court reporter began about two years ago. After getting the all-clear from my oncologist to return to work, and my daughter entering school full-time, it was time for me to decide what I wanted to do with my free time and second lease on life. I usually generate a chuckle when I tell the story of how I decided on the career of court reporting. Having pursued a degree in art after graduating from high school, I knew I would have to go back to school for something practical if I wanted to have a good-paying job. My second passion was always the criminal justice system and, to make a long story short, my husband brought up the idea of becoming a sketch artist in the courtroom. I quickly dismissed that idea but felt he may have been on to something. It was his next suggestion that changed my life. “What about becoming one of those “typie” people?” The lightbulb immediately came on and I knew he had hit the nail on the head.

I am fortunate enough to have been able to attend my theory classes in a brick-and-mortar school, and it was my being on campus that opened the door to forming personal relationships with the faculty and my classmates. It drew me into becoming involved with my school’s Captioning and Court Reporting (CCR) Club. The main purpose of our club is to facilitate students in attending professional enrichment events. It was through the CCR Club that I first learned about Ohio Court Reporters Association (OCRA) and NCRA conferences. I attended the OCRA conference, which was conveniently located near where I live in Parma, Ohio, in March of this year. The experience was invaluable to me and many of the working reporters I was networking with there suggested I attend the NCRA conference this year. I knew I would do whatever it took to attend. Miraculously, the conference was scheduled during my break from school and before my kids had to be back in their school. The timing was perfect, and the flight was booked.

The day I left for Denver, I was excited and nervous. I was not sure how different it would be as a student attending a national conference as opposed to a local one. Also, when I attended my state conference, I was one of many students from my school attending. This time, I was all by myself. I knew I had two faculty members attending, but I also knew they had educator seminars to attend, and I would have to rely on myself to navigate the convention center and socialize with strangers. In other words, I had to put my big girl pants on.

As soon as I stepped into the welcome area of the convention, I was greeted by a working reporter who exclaimed, “Yay! Another student!” I was whisked over to the registration table, all my nerves had vanished, and I felt completely at home. I cannot tell you how many professionals I engaged with during my three days at the convention, but I can tell you that I felt complete support and acceptance from everyone I had the pleasure of meeting. I have so many business cards that I need to invest in a Rolodex to fit them all.

In addition to having been accepted by the working professionals and attending seminars geared more toward them, I also attended ones geared strictly for students. The student events were some of my favorites because of the gracious and open nature of the speakers at those events. It also allowed me to meet other students from all over the United States and abroad and feel comfort in being able to talk to someone who can relate, right now, to what I am going through with school.

From seminars about live captioning Coachella to an inspiring keynote speech from Erin Brockovich; from high tea with professional speakers to speed dating with working reporters; from a Diamonds and Denim Gala to casual drinks at the hotel bar — every single minute of the conference was informative, enriching, fun, and inspiring. I would encourage every student to attend their state conference, but I would especially recommend doing whatever you can to attend at least one NCRA convention in your school career. I can promise you it will be completely worth the travel and expense because you cannot put a price on the information I learned, the contacts I  acquired, or the confidence and inspiration I felt upon my return to Parma, Ohio, to finish up what will hopefully be my last year as a student at Cuyahoga Community College.

April Frederick is president of the Captioning and Court Reporting Club at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio.

Hitting the Jury Duty Lottery

by Kindra Barton

Kindra Barton

Military spouse Kindra Barton taught fourth grade, traveled around the world, and raised four children before her path finally led her to court reporting school. At 42, she has just graduated from Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa. “I hope that by going back to school I have taught my kids not to be afraid to do something difficult,” Kindra says, “and that it is never too late to change directions.”

Three years ago, I was chosen for jury duty.  I had been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years at that point.  I was so excited to dress up and listen to adults that I jokingly said I hit the jury duty lottery.  I was chosen for a weeklong trial, and every minute was fascinating to me.  The court reporter, Teresa Kordick, RDR, CRR, CRC, CRI, CPE, was amazing.  She was very polite and professional.  The day I left the courthouse for the last time, I called my husband and told him I wanted to be a court reporter.

After high school, I was interested in court reporting but chose a career as a teacher instead.  I taught fourth grade in Texas before marrying a military pilot and setting off for ten moves around the world.  In those ten years, I set aside teaching for unpacking and packing boxes, having four children, and waving flags for every deployment.

At the age of 39, I enrolled in the Des Moines Area Community College court reporting program in Newton, Iowa. Attending this program required a 45-minute drive four times a week from my home in Des Moines. I just turned 42 and passed my last speed test the same month. It took three years for me to graduate.  The advice that helped me the most during school was from my professors, and I repeated it over and over for three years:

  • Don’t compare yourself with others.  We will all reach the speeds in our own time.
  • Trust the process.  Start with your theory and really nail it down and then move to the next speed.
  • You must believe you can do this.  No one else can believe it hard enough for you.
  • Practice your theory.  (Repeat 20x)
  • Practice, practice, practice.
  • When you are an amazing court reporter, no one will care how long it took you to get out of school.

One of the things that has been amazing about interacting with professional court reporters throughout my schooling has been the amount of support and encouragement they have for students. Every single one of them has said, “We need you.” They invite us to conferences and buy our lunch. They let us sit in with them for court and depositions. Without that experience, I am confident my speed would not be where it is today. We even had a firm owned by a female court reporter pay for one of our certification exams!

I have not heard anyone say that school has been easy for them. I have watched students graduate in 15 months and others take longer than three years. From the first theory test I ever took, I would turn to the person next to me and say, “You’ve got this.” As it turns out we need each other. When one student graduates, the water level rises, and we all swim a little higher.

My family has changed in the three years I have been in school.  My four children learned that failure isn’t an ending. (Don’t worry, Mom, you will pass the next one!) For Mother’s Day this year, my youngest daughter gave me a coupon for “5 free pep talks.” I hope that by going back to school I have taught my kids not to be afraid to do something difficult, and that it is never too late to change directions.

In the future I hope to become a freelance court reporter in Des Moines, Iowa.  I hope to figure out downtown parking, and I hope to perfect my steno face. For today, I need to go practice.

Kindra Barton is a recent graduate from Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa. She is currently studying for her RPR skills exams.