NCRA member shares about her career and how she became a court reporter

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyNCRA member Jessica Sheldon, RPR, CRR, Charlotte, N.C., was interviewed on radio station WBT 1110 AM about her career as an official court reporter, how she became one, and how the steno machine works. Sheldon also talked about the need for more court reporters and the various venues they can work in.

Listen here.

My court reporting “origin story”

A red S in a superhero emblem hovers within a yellow circle, similar to a full moon, over the black outline of a city.

We’re pretty sure the S is for “steno”

NCRA President Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, shared her court reporting “origin story” in her first address to the membership at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo. She said: “Last year, Tiva Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, talked about how important it is for each of us to tell the story that lead us to court reporting and how fascinating our career can be.”

The JCR Weekly team posed a similar question to the membership in the Sept. 20 newsletter as the Question of the Week: “How did you learn about court reporting or captioning as a career?” Most respondents said they knew or met someone who was a reporter or captioner, or they saw a presentation in a class, at a career fair, etc. But several responded with “other.” We reached out to some of these respondents and asked them to share their personal stories of how they learned about court reporting or captioning.


Back in 1978, my high school counselor knew about court reporting and suggested the career might be a good one for me. He was also the teacher for the yearbook class in which I was a student. He knew me and knew of my bent toward both English and grammar. At his suggestion, I met with the folks at the Denver Academy of Court Reporting. I signed up for the program and have never looked back. Thirty-nine years later, I continue as a court reporter, and I still love the profession. I am so grateful that Mr. Roederer recognized that court reporting would be a perfect fit for me.

Kathy Davis, RDR, CRR, CMRS
Denver, Colo.


I attended a religious high school, and there were no career days. I had a master’s degree and had worked on Capitol Hill, in advertising and in a law firm, but had never considered court reporting until an aunt suggested it as I typed fast, am very good with words, and am inquisitive.

Jeremy Frank
New York, N.Y.


Through luck, good fortune, and encouraging people, I found out about this profession.

I really enjoyed English and typing classes in high school, so I was going to Brown Mackie College in Salina, Kan., to enroll in the executive secretary program. I had never been in a courtroom and had no idea what a court reporter was. When I went to enroll, I was told about court reporting. They told me I should seriously consider it because of my grade average and my strengths were in English and typing. The career really sounded interesting to me and challenging. I went home to speak to my parents about it and found out that my parents’ friend and neighbor had been an official court reporter for a number of years. So I went to talk to Anna about her job, and she is the one who piqued my interest even more. With the positive things she had to say about the job, I decided to enroll.

Court reporting school was tough, but I had a wonderful teacher, Mary Smith Agren, who really made a huge difference. She was so positive and encouraging, very good at keeping her students on track and communicating her excitement about this profession. When she moved to Colorado during my time at Brown Mackie, teacher Donna Hanson helped me through the last part of my training. I am so glad I was introduced to this profession — it’s been great!

Tammy Hogsett, RMR
Lawrence, Kan.

When I was in high school, I belonged to a Girl Scout mounted troop here in the St. Louis area. The dad of one of the girls was an attorney for the IRS here in St. Louis.

He told my mom that I should consider a career in court reporting because they made really good money and had the ability to take down several people talking at one time and never missing a word. And I believed him. While the “good money” took a long while to achieve, I’ve never really gotten to the point where I can take “several people” talking at the same time!

And the rest is history … 33 years of history!

Linda Madel
Kirkwood, Mo.


Back before the internet, in 1988, I was browsing the “Tickets” section of the classifieds in the Albuquerque Journal, looking for concert tickets. Just so happened that the “Schools” section was the category just above the tickets section. There was a classified for New Mexico School of Court Reporting. I was going to college at the University of New Mexico‎ (UNM) at the time with intentions of going to law school. So the ad caught my eye. I had no idea what a court reporter even was. I assumed it was a newspaper reporter who worked in court. The ad was misleading because it said court reporters make these great salaries and set their own hours, blah, blah, blah, which we all know isn’t true. But it piqued my interest. So I called the school simply out of curiosity to ask what a court reporter does. Next thing you know, I quit UNM and enrolled in court reporting school. Here I am almost 30 years later a court reporter.

Stacy Purcella, RPR
Orange, Calif.


In the beginning, there was nothing. I knew nothing about court reporting, didn’t even know it existed. I went to college and received my degree. As I worked to find my first job after college, I stumbled upon Court TV, back in its infancy, when they showed live trials. It was during the time of the William Kennedy Smith case. I got engrossed in the trial. As the proceedings went on, I really began to take notice of the man sitting in front of the courtroom “typing” on a little machine. I found it fascinating that he was perched right in front of the witness, getting a front-row seat to all kinds of legal proceedings. Curiosity aroused, I began to research the field, what it was all about, and where to get trained to become one of these mysterious court reporters. I contacted Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta, applied, and registered. I began theory and was hooked, sure that I had made the right decision to enter this career. And here I am three decades later, still as much enthralled with court reporting as that first day of theory class, learning single letters, S-T-P-H….

Todd Vancel
Atlanta, Ga.

Demand is growing in the captioning and court reporting profession

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyAn interview with NCRA member Kelly Moranz, CRI, program manager and adjunct faculty at Cuyahoga Community College, Parma, Ohio, about the growing demand in the captioning and court reporting profession was posted Oct. 1 by Smart Business.

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Court reporting makes list of top 10 best jobs

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyOn July 11, Insider Monkey published a list of “10 High Paying Non Customer Service Jobs Without a Degree.” The list ranked court reporting as number 7 on the list, which also included media and communication equipment workers, hearing-aid specialists, and claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators.

The article, which quoted a paper on the rising cost of college education by Ronald Ehrenberg of Cornell University, explained that tuition for some colleges have increased annually about 2 percent more than inflation.

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LeTourneau University to host “Law as a Career Day”

jcr-publications_high-resLeTourneau University, Longview, Texas, is holding “Law as a Career Day” on Feb. 16 for college and high school students interested in legal careers, according to a Dec. 19 article in the Tyler Morning Telegraph. Law, paralegal, and court reporting schools will be at the event to provide information and answer questions about their programs. The university is also hosting a formal court session of the Texas Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in two cases.

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NCRA CEO Mike Nelson guest on Comcast Newsmakers

Elena Russo speaks with Mike Nelson, CEO and Executive Director for the National Court Reporters Association, about court reportingNCRA’s CEO and Executive Director, Mike Nelson, CAE, was interviewed last month for a segment of Comcast Newsmakers, a program that provides news and information from elected officials, public servants, and community leaders to connect viewers to important issues, events, and organizations that impact the community.

Nelson provided host Elena Russo information about NCRA’s members, their role in capturing the official record and providing other services to aid people who are deaf and hard of hearing, and the use of legal videography in the legal arena.

In addition, Nelson discussed the profession’s flexibility, salary potential, and positive employment outlook as well as the Association’s efforts to recruit more students into court reporting programs.

Elena Russo speaks with Mike Nelson, CEO and Executive Director for the National Court Reporters Association, practice "air steno"After the interview, Russo continued her conversation with Nelson and asked him questions about the court reporting and captioning professions, such as how steno works, the skills needed to ensure success in the field, and more about the nonlegal venues where NCRA members work. Nelson also noted NCRA’s members’ involvement in the National Court Reporter Foundation’s Oral Histories Program and the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

The Comcast Newsmakers segments are hosted on for up to two months, with select interviews appearing on Comcast’s XFINITY On Demand service. The segments can also be viewed via desktop or mobile browser and can be shared through Facebook and Twitter.

View Mike Nelson’s interview here.

Tri-C court reporting program open house draws large crowd, generates interest in profession

Signing in at the Tri-C open houseThe court reporting program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Parma, Ohio, hosted its largest open house ever on April 19, attracting 92 attendees interested in learning more about the court reporting and captioning professions.

The event, which was also captioned to provide those attending with a better understanding of realtime, outlined the various areas of court reporting and benefits such as flexibility, salary, and employment opportunities. A speed-networking session allowed attendees the opportunity to spend a few minutes with a variety of working court reporters, faculty members, and students from the program to ask questions and learn more about the profession.

Participants in the speed-networking portion addressed questions about speedbuilding, steno theory, CART and captioning work, the importance of English and grammar skills to succeed in the profession, what it is like to distance learn, Tri-C Court Reporting and Captioning Club activities, the student experience, and available scholarships.

Suzy Rafferty, Tri-C student, talks to attendees during the speed networking session at the Tri-C open house NCRA Immediate Past President Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter from Jefferson, Ohio, was also on hand to share information about the benefits of membership in NCRA and the Ohio Court Reporters Association.

“I was invited to speak about working as an official court reporter as well as about the importance of membership in professional associations while in school as a student in addition to as a professional in the field,” said Nageotte.

“While I was speaking specifically to my experience in working in the court systems of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and now the federal courts, I was fortunate to be able to refer to all arenas encompassed within the profession, including CART and broadcast captioning and freelance reporting and the benefits to each,” said Nageotte.

Kelly Moranz, CRI, Tri-C’s court reporting program manager and an adjunct faculty member, talks to attendees during the speed networking session at the Tri-C open houseNageotte said that the strong interest expressed by attendees about the 100 percent placement rate for graduates of Tri-C’s program also prompted her to share the information about retirement rates and job opportunities for the future in the profession based on the findings of the 2013-2014 Industry Outlook Report by Ducker Worldwide commissioned by NCRA.

According to Kelly Moranz, CRI, Tri-C’s court reporting program manager and an adjunct faculty member, the attendees represented a mix of all ages and demographics. She said that they had heard about the event either through stories featured by local print and broadcast media outlets, demonstrations and presentations at career fairs and community events, or a flyer they received in the mail.

The speed networking session at the Tri-C open house.“We had very positive feedback on the effectiveness of the speed-networking format in providing information along with insight into the program and profession,” said Moranz.

Moranz said after the event she received a number of emails from attendees expressing interest in enrolling in the Tri-C program as well as from one parent who wrote: “It was very informative, and what a turnout! I may pass this info on to my daughter. Thanks for inviting me.”

The event wrapped up with attendees having the opportunity to ask additional questions, try their hand at a steno machine, and learn more about Tri-C’s program and application process.

NCRA members find value in promoting at career fairs

DSC_0094_squareMore and more court reporters and captioners have realized the value in attending career fairs as a way to promote the profession. Most recently, Darlene Parker, RPR, a broadcast captioner, and Steve Clark, CRC, a CART captioner, presented at South Lakes High School in Reston, Va., on March 17. Because the high school is so close to NCRA headquarters, a staff member was able to join them.

“Presenting at this year’s career fair at South Lakes High School was a great opportunity to showcase our skills and professionalism of court reporters, broadcast captioners, and CART captioners,” said Clark. “Working as a team, we presented all sides of the professional – the management and training, as exemplified by Darlene Parker of NCI; the support, certification, and advocacy by our professional organization, thanks to Megan Rogers, NCRA’s Communications Assurance Specialist; and the skills and technical side of captioning as displayed by my live demonstration.”

Parker, whose son is a junior at the high school, noticed a call for volunteers for the fair, which was held for sophomores. “When I contacted the school,” she said, “they were thrilled to hear from me. The woman said she had been trying for years to get someone to represent the court reporting profession.” She asked Clark to help her with the presentation, especially with giving a practical demonstration. They set up a table with a couple laptops — one of which played the award-winning promotional video produced for the Take Note campaign on a loop and the other connected to Clark’s realtime feed — as well as a couple tablets wirelessly connected to the realtime feed. The table also offered fliers and posters with more information.

DSC_0101“The kids were fascinated by the realtime we displayed,” Parker noted. “One girl’s jaw dropped, and she did not close her mouth until the demo concluded.” Parker noted it was helpful to have someone to talk about the profession (possibly in front of the table to draw kids in) and someone to write live. She said it’s important for the steno machine to be visible. “Ask the kids what their names are and write them,” she said. “They love that.”

Parker had reached out to NCRA for materials, noting, “Consult NCRA’s website for helpful handouts, including fun facts.” And there’s no end to the amount of information to share with the students.

“Explain how the machine works and highlight that 5,500 jobs need to be filled in the next few years. Highlight all the different venues a court reporter/captioner can work in — as an official, a freelancer taking depositions, reporting the United States House of Representatives or United States Senate floor and committee proceedings, as a remote or onsite CART captioner for an individual in the classroom or workplace and/or at conventions, as a remote broadcast captioner, as a remote or in-stadium or in-arena captioner, and finally as a captioner in theaters. Mention that most positions offer a flexible schedule and the ability to work from home. Mention that it is a great profession for those who like words and technology,” said Parker. “And last, but not least, mention the return on investment — two to three years of schooling for an excellent salary and a rewarding career.”

Ruth Levy, RPR, a freelancer in Richmond, Va., who has recently reached out to NCRA for materials, commented on how important it is to promote the profession at these venues specifically.

“When I was a sophomore in high school, a court reporter came to my typing class and spoke about being a court reporter,” said Levy. “She asked if we liked to type. She asked if we were good at playing any instruments. She asked if we liked LA Law. I raised my hand for every question. A light bulb went off, and I knew right then and there I would love to be a court reporter.” Levy has been in contact with “a local high school that does more legal assistant and technical courses,” but she’s no stranger to promoting the profession. “While I was [attending the Academy of Court Reporting] and finishing up, I would travel with the career placement adviser and speak to high school students about being a court reporter. She would talk, and I would demonstrate,” said Levy. “It was a great feeling to pay forward what I learned in my 10th grade typing class.”

Erminia Uviedo, RMR, CRR, a freelancer in San Antonio, Texas, who has participated in more than a dozen career fairs since November, echoed Levy’s sentiments: “Just like we at one time had someone enter our classroom, sit down at a little-known type of machine, spooling out little white paper covered in lettered ink, that piqued our interest then, we must remember that feeling of when our dream began, what sparked our interests, what made us go out and seek a court reporting school. We need to remember how all it took was that one person to demonstrate machine shorthand to realize that’s exactly what we wanted to do as a career and how it has lead us to the point that we are now.”

Uviedo — along with Tonya Thompson, RPR, an official in San Antonio, and Leticia Salas, RPR, an official in Houston, who have also been active in promoting court reporting in Texas — had several tips to share.

“When attending career fairs, we have learned that the next generation is technologically savvy and quite ambitious. Many are articulate and looking for a profession that provides perpetual education and holds their attention,” said Thompson. “They are captivated with our cool keyboards and are intrigued with the ability we have to write at the speed of sound. They quickly sit behind our writers and get so excited when we show them how to write their names. They squeal with joy as their names scroll across the computer screen as their friends watch.” Thompson noted that “the excitement of a career fair is almost as exciting as attending a national convention” and that she finds that it “rejuvenates our excitement in the profession.”

Salas added, “I think it’s extremely valuable in promoting court reporting because it’s a very rewarding career. To be able to always have front row seats in people’s lives is a privilege.” She’s also noticed that career fairs are a good place to help people see the connection between court reporting and captioning: “I’ve realized that not many people have the knowledge of knowing what closed-captioning and CART are really all about and that these two avenues are roads of the court reporting profession.”

“I have learned that nine times out of 10, your audience — teachers, counselors, parents, or high school students — will be always be amazed with a realtime demonstration. Out of all the careers or schools spotlighted at career fairs, court reporting is always one of the most popular. The machine does most of the attracting on its own,” said Uviedo.

Based on her experience, she has several practical tips for others who are interested in putting on a career fair: “Have a nice Trifold display board and plenty of handouts. Make sure there are websites, Facebook pages, or Twitter profiles for them to easily be able to search for online. The ideal amount for a successful fair is four court reporters: two to reel the audience in, and two to demonstrate realtime on their machines.” Parker and Clark chose to keep the steno machine in sight but behind the table to protect it, but Uviedo recommends having the machine front and center. “Always let the audience sit at the machine and be very hands-on. Always let the students take selfies of themselves on the machine. They will do the advertising for us, easily reaching hundreds of others who will hopefully be interested in what kind of machine did they just see a picture of, engaging them to comment on what it is, where to find out about court reporting, etc.” Uviedo has also combined forces with San Antonio College’s court reporting program. “Always have sign-in sheets. And when there is an open house coming up, mass text everyone on the sign-in sheets to invite them to the open house,” she said, so students can easily take the next step.

NCRA members who are interested in presenting at career fairs have a variety of resources available from the Association. The Resource Center at has fliers, posters, a PowerPoint presentation, and a promotional video (both generic and customizable for a specific program, etc.). Members may also find value in the resources at These materials are focused on Court Reporting & Captioning Week, but members can adapt them for other promotional purposes or to find ideas for how to showcase court reporting and captioning. Members who do participate in career fairs or any other promotional activities are encouraged to contact Annemarie Roketenetz, NCRA Communications Manager, at for possible inclusion in the JCR. Keep in mind that any photos will likely need to hide any identifying features of minors, especially faces.

Madison College marks Court Reporting & Captioning Week

The Clarion, the student newspaper for the Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wis., posted an article on Feb. 17 showcasing the college’s court reporting program and the benefits of a career in the field.

Read more.

NCRA member organizes participation in 13 career fairs in 15 days

A court reporter explains the court reporting keyboard to a school counselor

Leticia Escamilla explains the court reporting keyboard to a counselor at Southwest High School in San Antonio, Texas

When NCRA member Erminia Uviedo, RMR, CRR, a court reporter from San Antonio, Texas, was asked to serve on a newly created student recruitment task force by the Texas Court Reporters Association, she knew immediately what she wanted to do: showcase the profession at local high school career fairs.

“In the past two years, I have raised eight out of my 10 children, so I have more time to dedicate to the profession, which I love,” said Uviedo. “My passion lies in reaching out to court reporting students as far as mentoring, tutoring, and recruiting students to the profession.”

“With the court reporting shortage and court reporting schools closing,” she continued, “I made it a personal goal to reach out to all the high schools in the San Antonio area and try to recruit at least 30-50 new court reporting students.”

To launch her quest, Uviedo used a map of the independent school districts in San Antonio, developed a list of the high schools in each, and started contacting the schools’ counselors to explain how she would like promote the court reporting and captioning professions at upcoming career fairs.

“Luckily it was College Week in Texas. I contacted 27 high schools and was able to organize 13 career fairs over the course of 15 days,” Uviedo said, noting that she was also able to schedule participation in an additional four events slated for the spring of 2016.

A court reporting student and a court reporter writing on their steno machines at a career fair

Jessica Butts, a court reporting student, and Angie Jimenez write on their steno machines

Next, Uviedo pulled together an army of volunteers not just from the ranks of the TCRA membership, but also from the faculty of the court reporting program offered through San Antonio College. She created sign-in sheets that were used at each event to collect contact information from students who expressed an interest in the profession. The contact information was then forwarded to SAC’s court reporting program where the faculty plans to follow up with invitations to an upcoming open house.

Uviedo also personally created a SAC court reporting program Facebook page and Twitter page that contained information potential recruits could access, so students who visited the court reporting booths at various events could stay abreast of any court reporting recruiting messages she posted.

“It is important to plant the seed for this profession early in a student’s life,” said Pat Woodward, CRI, SAC’s court reporting program director, who volunteered for several of the career fairs. “Many of the students who came by were in middle school, and the amazement was wonderful to see on their faces. They had no idea we existed.”

According to Uviedo, between 20 and 25 students on average visited the court reporting booths at each of the career fairs and asked a variety of questions about the profession ranging from how fast the volunteers could type, to tuition costs, to salary potentials and employment outlooks.

A court reporter shows off her steno machine at a career fair

Olga Gutierrez shows off her steno machine at Marshall High School in San Antonio, Texas

Uviedo said that many of the students who stopped by the booths also had no idea what court reporting was about and were often absolutely amazed when they watched realtime demonstrations. Career counselors who attended the events were equally intrigued about the profession and wanted to know more about the program offered at SAC, as well as the demand for court reporters in the future, she noted.

Uviedo said one of the greatest benefits of participating in the career fairs was being able to share court reporting as a rewarding career choice to students who were mostly unaware of the profession.

“I walked away feeling accomplished with certain students who seemed genuinely interested in court reporting as a career choice,” said Maria Fattahi, RPR, CRR, an official court reporter who served as one of Uviedo’s volunteers.

For others interested in promoting the court reporting and captioning professions at career fairs in their areas, Uviedo advises reaching out to students through social media to help keep them connected with the notion of court reporting as a viable career option.

“I asked students to Tweet a picture of our board or them at our court reporting machine using the hashtags #courtreporting, #crTakeNote, or #SACCourtReporting. Being that most students have hundreds (if not thousands) of friends in their social network, the informational court reporting posts can potentially reach the thousands,” Uviedo said. “When I checked Twitter, I could see that many of their friends voluntarily retweeted their posts simply because they thought it was cool.”

Tonya Thompson, RPR, an official court reporter who also volunteered for the career fair effort, advises letting the machine pique the curiosity of prospective future reporters. “It’s all about the machine and the mystery behind how it is possible to write so rapidly. Let them play with the keyboard and see what words they create in realtime,” she said.

“First thing, ask them their name and introduce yourself. Then teach them to write their name on the machine and even bring along an older machine so they can walk away with steno paper that has their name written in steno. Priceless!” she added.

Rick Hopkins, a senior faculty member at SAC, added that having an ink stamp on hand to stamp contact information on the steno that paper students and counselors take with them is also helpful. In addition, he added, don’t be afraid to pull people into the booth to talk to them.

“Leaving the career fairs, I walked away feeling a sense of accomplishment that we have planted the seed of court reporting and have reached so many students,” said Uviedo of the experience.

“By the way,” Uviedo added. “I guess I have a little bit of OCD because after I scheduled these career fairs, I contacted my colleagues in Laredo and Hidalgo asking them if I could help them spread the word about court reporting in their counties. I’ve set a new goal — to reach all of South Texas.”