NCRF announces winner of the Robert H. Clark Scholarship

Sydney Lundberg

Sydney Lundberg, a student from Des Moines Area Community College in Des Moines, Iowa, was named recipient of the 2018 Robert H. Clark Scholarship. This $2,000 scholarship is named for the late Robert H. “Bob” Clark, a court reporter from Los Angeles, Calif., who was dedicated to preserving the history of the profession. Lundberg is the fourth recipient of this scholarship.

In 2015, Clark’s family made a generous donation to NCRF to honor him, and NCRF created the new Robert H. Clark Scholarship. Students are nominated by instructors or other officials at their schools. To be eligible, nominees must be NCRA members, must be enrolled in an NCRA-approved court reporting program, must have passed at least one of their program’s Q&A tests at 200 words per minute, and must possess a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, among other criteria.

“Receiving this scholarship means to me that I will be able to finish school and begin working as a reporter even sooner. I am currently in the last part of my program, and this support will allow me to purchase professional equipment that will give me the last boost I need to graduate,” said Lundberg.

Lundberg heard about court reporting as a career through a family member. “My aunt is a captioner, and I was inspired by how she was able to capture the spoken word, work from home, and be so successful. After I graduate, my plans include working for a freelance firm in Des Moines, Iowa. I also plan on continuing to learn things about the profession, building my dictionary, and continuing to work on speed,” Lundberg said.

To learn more about NCRF’s scholarships and grants, visit NCRA.org/NCRF/Scholarships.

Firm owners donate Convention swag

The NCRA Student/Teacher Committee is grateful to the many people who generously donated to the student swag bags at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La. Last February, the Committee sent out a call to the NCRA Firm Owners email list, asking firms to donate a little something extra (or “lagniappe” in New Orleans-speak) for the bags. Planet Depos sent in a great backpack, and the goodies kept pouring in to fill them up. Other Firm Owners donated pens, travel mugs, mouse pads, hand sanitizers, pens, sticky notes, keyboard brushes, pencil cases, candy, and more!

The Student/Teacher Committee would like to thank the following donors who contributed to this year’s student swag bags:

  • Alaris
  • Benchmark Reporting Agency
  • Doris. O. Wong & Associates, Inc.
  • Hanson Renaissance Reporting & Video
  • Jack W. Hunt & Associates
  • Kay Moody, MCRI, CPE
  • LNS Court Reporting & Legal Video
  • Memory Reporting, Inc.
  • O’Brien & Levine
  • OrangeLegal
  • Planet Depos
  • Rider & Associates, Inc.
  • Schmitt Reporting & Video, Inc.
  • Streski Reporting & Video Service
  • Summit City Reporting
  • U.S. Legal Support
  • West Coast Court Reporting & Video
  • Wood & Randall
  • YOM

A glimpse of the action

Last month’s NCRA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La., was a great success. Student attendees were treated not only to some fun and informative seminars, but also a meet-and-greet with the NCRA Board of Directors. Student sessions included “Student Steno Speed Dating,” “Good Reporter/Bad Reporter,” “Online Skills Testing,” and “What I Didn’t Learn in Court Reporting School.” View the Complete Coverage of the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo article with many links.

You will never work again!

By Forrest Brown, FAPR, RDR (Ret.)

How would you like a job that you were in for 50 years and yet you never went to work? I began my court reporting career on Feb. 2, 1959, in the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit in Atlanta, Ga. Then in April 1961, I moved to the Atlanta Judicial Circuit and remained there until November 1968, deciding to become a freelance reporter instead of an official reporter. If we define work as a task one performs that is not enjoyable, then I can truthfully say that I never went to work.

Yes, I had a job. Sometimes it was hard because the subject matter was unfamiliar and the attorneys were volatile and interrupting each other at times, but it was always fun. Yes, the judge was a good-spirited and well-meaning person who was quite personable and a pleasant person to work with and always told a personal story to each set of attorneys who came before him. The “trying” part about hearing the story is that when you’re the court reporter in court and you are assigned to a particular judge, then you hear the story dozens of times before a new one takes its place.

Then, on the freelance reporting side of my years, it was always enjoyable to report a deposition and hear another story about a subject that was interesting and entertaining to the extent that, more than a job, it was somewhat socializing with your clients’ associates and their fellow attorneys. Most always the attorneys were friendly and responsive to the needs of the reporter, whether it was yours truly or someone else. There were always back-and-forth conversations: “How’d it go in court last week? Oh, too bad your company representative settled the case when you had it won.” “How’s your son doing with his broken arm? Oh, he wet the cast when he fell in the pool and his arm cast had to be redone.” Always try to be friendly and helpful: “I’m over by the coffee; may I pour a cup for you?”

The doctor whose deposition you are preparing to take is explaining to the attorneys in the case the intricacies of an intense situation in the operating room last Wednesday and the extremely complicated circumstances surrounding the procedure. Very interesting preamble to the deposition job, but not work for sure.

Why is the witness talking so fast, so low, and sometimes swallowing his words, turning his head at an angle that prohibits you from seeing his face and mouth so that you have trouble distinguishing what he’s saying? Somehow you live through it and when you sit down to begin to put this word puzzle together, it makes sense. It was challenging at the time, but it wasn’t work because it is now gratifying and you are convinced that you actually did a good job; and you’re doubly pleased when the jurat is returned with no errors noted.

I have taken the testimony of a financial expert who’s explaining in his deposition the definition of borrowing short, meaning borrowing funds on a long-term basis to pay short-term debt. An educational exercise for sure, but certainly, it’s not work.

As a beginning reporter, I would stress that you always arrive at every appointment or in court at least 15 minutes prior to the time of your appointment, that you are a person of humility and caring, that you’re always courteous, polite, and willing to accommodate any situation with which you’re faced.

I have reported depositions sitting in the back seat of an attorney’s automobile with a steno machine in my lap; also with a steno machine balanced on the hood of a car; and also sitting on the back porch of a farm house with a bad housefly problem. That one required writing steno and swatting flies at the same time. You can do this. It’s fun, it’s a job, and it’s never work. You’re gonna be a great reporter and you’re going to be very successful. Hold our head up high and face whatever situation because you are now a professional court reporter and your record will never forget!

Busy Mom – Stellar Student

Kyra Kustin

by Nicky Rodriquez

While a student at the College of Court Reporting (CCR) in Valparaiso, Ind., Kyra Kustin studied general education, medical terminology, legal terminology, machine shorthand, and court reporting technology courses. She developed a strong background in English and communications. Additionally, Kustin received numerous honors and high honors throughout her schooling.

Kustin had this to say about CCR: “First off, the program at CCR is amazing. I’m so confident going out working and knowing that I am totally prepared in every way. Second, making a meticulous schedule held me accountable for keeping up with the plan I had made for getting through school. Lastly, to be honest, I’m super competitive, and when I set goals, there’s not much that I will let get in my way.”

Kustin acknowledges that she completed school in such a short amount of time because of her support system. “I have three daughters. My oldest two are 8 and 6, and my youngest was born in June 2017, right in the middle of my time at CCR. She’s another reason I credit for my success. I found out I was pregnant a few months into school. I knew what was coming in the months ahead, so I really pushed myself as hard as I could to get my speed up as much as I could before she was born. I made it to 140/160 speeds in that first year. My husband was the best support I could have had. He never complained a single time about giving me whatever time or resources I needed to succeed. It was extremely difficult, and there was a lot of trading the girls back and forth, but without his support, I couldn’t have finished school, and definitely not in the time that I did.”

In addition to developing a strong academic background, Kustin learned CCR’s EV360 Realtime Theory to master the ability to write with virtually perfect accuracy on a stenographic machine at 225 words per minute. As a result of her education and skills, she is capable of working in a variety of fields, such as official reporting in state and federal courts, broadcast television captioning, educational reporting for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and freelance reporting for attorneys.

Before starting classes at the College of Court Reporting, Kustin worked as a medical transcriptionist. Unfortunately, that profession did not adapt to industry and technology changes, which resulted in less work and dwindling income. The scarcity of work, combined with her children getting older, opened the door for Kustin to change careers and go back to school. A family member familiar with court reporting suggested the profession. Although very different from transcription, it was similar enough to catch her eye. She was also intrigued by the variety of opportunities (freelance, official, captioning, CART) and availability of a flexible schedule.

This led Kustin to research schools. She diligently proceeded to educate herself to make the best decision for her future. “I spent a really long time researching schools, and never heard anything but overwhelming praise for CCR, which made it an easy decision and by far the best decision I made. The support from all of the teachers and staff, and the overwhelmingly comprehensive education you get at CCR was more than I could have asked for,” Kustin stated.

Kyra Kustin is a resident of Wading River, N.Y., and now works as a freelance court reporter in New York. She passed her final tests and received her A.A.S. from the College of Court Reporting (CCR) in Valparaiso, Ind., in less than 24 months.

Nicky Rodriquez is the director of admissions for the College of Court Reporting, based in Valparaiso, Ind. She can be reached at nicky.rodriquez@ccr.edu.

Interning is a window into the real world

Nicole Johnson

by Nicole Johnson

When I first began my internship journey, I was scared. I was stepping out of my cozy comfort zone of court reporting school and into the “real world” (school is real too!) of lawyers and judges. I was also very close to some dangerous folks who’ve committed serious offenses, as well as funny witnesses who put the jury at ease. As a more introverted person, being around strangers every day is a bit stressful in itself. Then I realized I’m not the official reporter yet. I’m only here to learn how a real reporter handles situations, study how a courtroom works outside of television, and practice talking to unfamiliar faces in an environment that I am slowly easing my way into. Most importantly, I’m here to gain experience past what school has taught me and to put what I’ve been studying for the past six years to good use.

The first day I interned was a calendar day, and it went by really fast. It’s a room full of people and a judge going over all of their cases; the defense attorneys usually said their names at breakneck speed sans spelling. Lucky for me, I had a reporter who would give me a list of names when I would sit in with her. Those days are the most intense but still not as difficult as trying to pass all my 200 wpm speed tests.

Here in court, the bailiffs were cordial, the attorneys respectful, and the judges more than happy to talk court reporting shop with you. Everyone always seems genuinely interested in what you’re doing with that “funny looking machine.”

On top of interning in a courthouse, I’ve also participated in a few mock trials given by University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. Those were honestly terrifying, and I didn’t know what I was walking into. In a mock trial, I was the reporter. Though I had a mentor who would occasionally come in the deposition room to see how things were going, this felt real. I had to produce a rough draft transcript, constantly interrupt an attorney who always spoke at 260+ words a minute unless he was addressing the jury, and had to keep track of all the different soon-to-be lawyers coming in and out of the room. It was a dizzying but great experience. The student lawyers were always happy to have a court reporter there. Once I was asked by an attorney for read back (thank goodness I had it), and she actually used what “Madame Court Reporter” said in her closing arguments (and won). It was gratifying to feel this job’s importance. It’s also satisfying to know that others rely on the words I’m taking down. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.

I gained a lot of confidence doing mock trials and sitting in with reporters, gaining their knowledge, and learning new briefs. The real world, I realized, isn’t as scary as it seemed. It was actually better than I imagined. While I’m not a perfect writer, here is the perfect place to make mistakes, to try again the next day, to overcome any mental roadblocks, and to ask all the questions you want. You’ll end up working with the same attorneys, clerks, judges, and so forth, and everything will slowly fall into place.

I’ve realized that court, especially a trial, feels easier than school. I mean, school definitely prepares you, but nothing beats being there. You get accustomed to the way certain people speak, and there are a lot more pauses than in speed class.

I’m almost finished with my hours, and I’m going to continue sitting in with reporters even afterwards; because it’s fun, because I know I can do it, and because I can see myself in the reporter’s chair. My internship has given me more fire and motivation, and it’s the last step that will help me reach my full potential towards becoming an official reporter.

Nicole Johnson is a high-speed student at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif.

A love of language translates to steno

Molly Cooper

Molly Cooper’s background in linguistics was a definite plus in helping her relate to the stenographic theory. Molly started the court reporting program at South Coast College in Orange, Calif., in October 2017, and in less than a year has already passed her 200 wpm speed test.

I graduated from University of California Santa Cruz with a BA in Linguistics in 2012. My love for language then took me to Mexico and Thailand where I taught English as a Second Language for about five years. I became fluent in Spanish and briefly studied a handful of other languages along the way.  In 2017, I craved a new challenge and found one. I limited my teaching to one-on-one tutoring and began studying stenography at South Coast College.

The experience I had gained analyzing language patterns and structures and the real-life application of acquiring a foreign language prepared me immensely for learning the realtime shorthand theory at South Coast College. I jokingly respond when students ask me how I progressed so quickly in speeds that my linguist brain is busy breaking down words into word parts.  It helps in writing the shorthand and in editing transcripts. My linguist brain is fully activated and thriving during the entire process.

UTS | How did you get interested in court reporting?
COOPER | I majored in linguistics and had been told that becoming a stenographer could be a good career route. Then last summer, a paralegal student/friend of mine made the recommendation to me. The seed from college had been sprouted by this suggestion, so I started looking into it. It turns out that capturing language through shorthand is something I’m extremely interested in.

UTS | What kind of support system do you have at home or at school?
COOPER | My parents have always been incredibly supportive. They’ve given me the support, confidence, and space needed to indulge my curiosity, explore the globe, and never stop learning new things.

UTS | Do you have a mentor?
COOPER | My teacher Beckie Remsen has really guided me since my very first day of school. I am extremely grateful to her. There are also a few professional reporters that have been so helpful and encouraging since I’ve started shadowing and reaching out.

UTS | What do you enjoy most about court reporting school?
COOPER | The fact that language is at the center of everything we do. The constant challenge that brings continual growth and self-improvement. The fact that each reporter can build on their theory foundation to create a personalized dictionary that specifically benefits them.

UTS | What’s the best advice you’ve been given so far?
COOPER | So many watchers and professionals have offered great advice!

UTS | Who or what inspires you?
COOPER | People who live life to its fullest.

UTS | What is your dream job?
COOPER | Being an international court reporter.

Madison College court reporting teacher reported 9/11 transcripts at Guantanamo Bay

The Wisconsin State Journal published an article on Sept. 9 about the court reporting background of Pamela Perry, RPR, CRI, an instructor at Madison College, to coincide with 9/11. Perry was a court reporter for two years in the 9/11 trials held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Read more.

NCRA Announces Winners of the 2018 CASE Scholarships

The Council on Approved Student Education (CASE) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 CASE Scholarships. Ashley Stahl, a student at Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Ariz., has been awarded a $1,500 scholarship for first place. Four other scholarships were awarded: Courtney Petros, MacCormac College, Chicago, Ill., $1,000; Suzanne M. Stone, Bryan University, Tempe, Ariz., $750; Robin Rieger, Brown College of Court Reporting, Atlanta, Ga., $500; and Ann Marie Gibson, College of Court Reporting, Valparaiso, Ind., $250.

Ashley Stahl

“I am so honored to receive this scholarship! I think it’s wonderful that the court reporting community offers so many scholarship opportunities like this for aspiring students. My state requires the Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) certification in order to work, so the prize money gives me the freedom to finish the last semester of school, take the legs of the RPR, and purchase professional equipment once I get certified. I plan to start my career as a freelance reporter in Phoenix,” said Stahl.

Each year, CASE awards several 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. The 2018 essay question was: “Pick an experience during your court reporting education and explain how it has influenced your development.”

In her essay, Stahl wrote about how common it is for court reporting students to fail tests as they progress in their education and how her failures have helped her become more successful.

“Failing tests is a way of life for court reporting students. However, I have come to appreciate that every failure offers an opportunity to learn and improve. By studying notes and scrutinizing tests, I have figured out where I am misstroking or hesitating in my writing.”

Courtney Petros

Courtney Petros, a student at MacCormac College in Chicago, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

“Winning this scholarship means that I can begin purchasing the equipment that I need in order to become a working court reporter. This scholarship has also given me the opportunity to attend the NCRA Convention in New Orleans,” Petros said.

“I am so excited for the opportunity to attend the convention so that I can network with other court reporters, learn new information at the seminars, and see what new technology exists in the court reporting field,” added Petros, who noted that he plans to work as a freelance court reporter upon graduation.

In his essay, Petros wrote about how his bachelor’s degree in psychology became an invaluable asset to him during court reporting school: “There are many highs and lows that a court reporting student feels. It is near impossible to explain the joy that you feel when you finally pass that 160 words-per-minute literary test that catapults you into a new speed. On the contrary, it is defeating when you miss passing a test by just one or two small errors. I realized early on that in order for me to be successful in school, it would not only require the coordination of my hands and mind, but also a strong relationship between my emotional responses and my ability to keep my mind clear.”

Suzanne Stone

Suzanne M. Stone, a student at Bryan University in Tempe, Ariz., was awarded a $750 scholarship.

“I am extremely grateful to be receiving a CASE Student Scholarship. Court reporting school has been the most challenging goal I have undertaken, so being recognized in this field is an honor. As I near the end of school, I will be investing in a new laptop and professional software, and this scholarship will help tremendously with these purchases,” Stone said. “After graduating and attaining my certifications, I plan to work as a freelance reporter.”

In her essay, Stone wrote about how attending an NCRA convention helped her to overcome her tendency to be an introvert and meet fellow students: “Court reporting is such a different field of study, and sometimes it is difficult explaining the challenges to someone who is not in the field. Meeting my classmates and other students in person was comforting because you know that they understand what you are going through. I have become closer with some of my classmates as well, and I don’t think that would have happened if I had not attended the national and the state convention.”

Robin Rieger

Robin Rieger, a student at Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta, Ga., was awarded a $500 scholarship.

In her essay, Rieger wrote about how changing the structure of how she practiced improved the overwhelming task of cleaning up her writing and her dictionary, which laid a solid foundation for her ability to write in realtime: “The first time writing a dictation, I wrote for speed to see what I could get; but instead of continuing to speed drill, I changed my focus to the untranslated words and conflicts and immediately made those changes.”

 

 

Ann Marie Gibson

Ann Marie Gibson, a student at the College of Court Reporting (CCR) in Valparaiso, Ind., has been awarded a $250 scholarship.

“I am honored to have won this scholarship from such a prestigious organization as the National Court Reporters Association.  As a student with a full schedule, I have had to cut back on some of the hours that I work, so being awarded this scholarship helps to alleviate some of the financial burden associated with school,” said Gibson, who attends CCR as an online student.

“I would like to put this money towards a new desktop computer so the technology I have at home keeps up with my educational needs as well as my future career,” she added.

In her essay, Gibson wrote about a health scare part-way through her education that has aided her in successfully working toward graduating from court reporting school.

“Going back to school after 30 years has been the opportunity and challenge of a lifetime. I have learned as much about myself in the last year as I have about becoming a court reporter. One experience that has influenced my development as a student was a major health scare that happened near the end of my third semester at CCR,” she wrote. “I had a brush with death and blindness, and I had to learn to live by my new philosophy of the three Ps: Priorities, Permission, and Please, if I was going to successfully continue as a student.”

Gibson said she is still undecided about which area of court reporting she will pursue after graduation, although her ultimate goal is to work as an official court reporter or possibly as a CART (Communications Access Realtime Translation) captioner.

HGTC hopes to fill nationwide court reporter shortage

WMBF News  reported on Sept. 5 that Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Conway, S.C., is working to create a court reporter program in response to the nationwide shortage.

Read more.