NCRA student member Abby Cook, a student in the court reporting program at the Community College of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Pa., was recently featured in an article about career changers. Cook is a cousin of Lisa Nagy-Baker, RDR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Annapolis, Md., and NCRA past president.
Last year, the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, Pa., won a challenge set by NCRA to help boost student membership with the association. Last week, students at CCAC celebrated that win with a day-long, specially tailored mini convention provided to them by NCRA. CCAC was one of 22 NCRA participating schools to join the challenge and won for successfully encouraging 100 percent of CCAC students to hold membership in the association.
“More than 35 court reporting students attended the event,” said Cynthia Bruce Andrews, NCRA’s Director of Professional Development Programs, who was on-site to represent the association. “Everyone found the information shared by the presenters very helpful. The enthusiasm shown by the students and administration was contagious.”
The day’s schedule of events included sessions that addressed tips for test taking, planning for success in the court reporting profession, comma basics, a luncheon, and door prizes and giveaways throughout the day.
“CCAC is so grateful to NCRA for hosting this mini convention,” said Marybeth Johnson, CRI, the school’s court reporting program director. “The speakers were diverse in their topics, the students engaged, and the door prizes greatly appreciated.”
Among the presenters during the day were Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE, national marketing manager for RealtimeCoach, who led a session about test-taking skills for online test takers. Also on the schedule was veteran teacher and author Margie Wakeman Wells, CRI, who taught a two-part session on the proper use of commas. Wells, who serves as an online education consultant for the College of Court Reporting in Hobart, Ind., is also the author of several punctuation and grammar books including Court Reporting: Bad Grammar/Good Punctuation.
NCRA Vice President Nativa Wood, RDR, CMRS, a retired official court reporter from Harrisburg, Pa., also addressed students at the event and provided tips, advice, and insights in a session entitled “Planning for Success.”
“Students are so appreciative when we do events at their school. Hearing about test taking, planning for success, and, of course, grammar from industry professionals keeps them engaged and moving toward their goal,” Wood said. “NCRA recognizes that when we engage students during their time in school, we are setting the stage for those students to become lifelong members.”
Prizes given away included $200 donated by Karen Nickel, owner of Nickel Reporting Services, Pittsburg, Pa., whose daughter, Sara, is a CCAC student. The $200 was won by student Jill Smith, while student Liz Kapp, winner of a set of drill books donated by Wells, exclaimed, “I love drills!”
“Who knew that our students could engage in comma dialogue for close to four hours?” said Johnson, who was presented with a poster from the students at the event’s close.
“The mini conference started with the Steno BE: and each student filled in the blank, for example: Be motivated, Be fast, Be kind, and so on. It was a wonderful day,” said Johnson.
For more information about NCRA’s mini conventions, contact Cynthia Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCRF awards two $1,000 Student Intern Scholarships annually, selected by random drawing. Students must have completed or be currently performing the required internship portion of their court reporting program, among other requirements. Kelly Greer of the Community College of Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Penn., and Rebecca Russo of Gadsden State Community College, Gadsden, Ala., are this year’s winners.
For more information about NCRF scholarships and awards, click here.
In 2010, NCRA’s Education Department began to reach out to students by hosting mini conventions on the campuses of court reporting schools in an effort provide them with additional resources and the opportunity to meet and network with working professionals, educators, and vendors of products and services that support the court reporting field.
Since the start of the program, the Association has hosted between two and four mini conventions each year, and the response has been overwhelming, according to Lynette Eggers, CRI, CPE, NCRA’s assistant director for Educational Services. Even better than that, the events have proven to be priceless to students.
“Once a school is chosen as a mini convention site, NCRA’s Education Department works with the school’s president and other representatives to develop a tailored program that includes a keynote speaker and sessions that address a variety of aspects about the court reporting profession,” Eggers says.“The speakers include members of NCRA’s Board of Directors, various committees, and professionals deemed experts in a particular area. In addition, we invite vendors to participate and include networking breaks throughout the event so that students have the opportunity to talk with them and experience firsthand the products and services they offer.”
In 2013, NCRA hosted two mini conventions. The first, held in May at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania, featured keynote speaker Bill Weber, RDR, CRR, from Bethel Park, Pa., who shared his experience reporting on the 9/11 terrorist trials taking place at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Weber reinforced to students the importance of joining their state and national associations and associating with key groups of other reporters to ensure further development of their skills and their overall success as reporters.
“Building these relationships is especially important in this day and age when so many reporters no longer work in an office with other reporters. They need to have other reporters nearby to relate to, and associations are where that can take place,” Weber says. “While my presentation talked about the GTMO experience, I also shared how I become involved with my state association, which sent me to leadership training and resulted in my meeting Nancy Varallo, NCRA’s current president. I made friends with Nancy, and through that relationship, I met Lorene Eppley, RPR, a firm owner from Boston, Mass., who had landed the GTMO contract and eventually led to my contract for this work.”
Weber says that he also stressed to students the importance of earning professional certifications, pointing out that only reporters who held the Certified Realtime Reporter certification from NCRA could apply for the GTMO team.
According to Weber, the students were truly engaged in each of the seminars that were presented at the May mini convention, which also covered overcoming the test-taking heebie-jeebies, the perspectives of a freelance court reporter working in Pennsylvania, the genesis of CART reporting in the city of Pittsburgh, and planning for success.
“The greatest value students receive from attending an NCRA mini convention is the ability to speak with working reporters from all facets of our industry and to learn about the various options that they have in our field after they graduate,” says Steve Zinone, RPR, from Canandaigua, N.Y., NCRA’s current Secretary-Treasurer. Zinone was the keynote speaker at a June mini convention at Long Island Business Institute in New York.
“These events are also extremely important because the students hear firsthand how experienced reporters also struggled at times in school, especially with speedbuilding skills, and what techniques they utilized to conquer those learning plateaus,” he added.
During his address at the Long Island Business Institute, Zinone says he emphasized the history of court reporting, which dates back centuries to when the Roman philosopher and politician Cicero relied on Tiro as his scrivener. He also stressed that students and working reporters are each part of the profession’s evolution. Zinone said he also stressed the importance of mentoring.
“I am fortunate to have four mentors who I reach out to on a weekly and sometimes on a daily basis for advice and guidance. I encourage every court reporting student to have one, not only during school but throughout their professional career,” he says.
In addition, students at the Long Island event attended sessions that addressed developing dictionaries in realtime reporting, overcoming test anxiety, getting ready to work, becoming realtime-ready, and top tips for becoming a broadcast captioner.
Like Weber, Zinone says he also took the opportunity to encourage students to begin networking while they are still in school, suggesting that they join their state and national associations and attend NCRA conventions to network with other professionals and have the chance to kick the tires on all the latest technologies that vendors showcase.
“I also encourage students that when someone says to them that they’ll be replaced by an audio or video recording device, to relay this message to them:
“During the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on our country, there were 36 million deaf Americans and double that number of hard-of-hearing Americans who relied on the closed captioning that was being provided by an amazing group of professional stenographic reporters, who worked hour after hour, day after day, during one of the worst times in our great nation’s history. Now, imagine yourself as being one of those deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans, sitting in your apartment on the 45th floor, watching those terrible events unfold. Without the captioning, you would have thought the world was coming to an end — if not for those brave and heroic reporters providing that closed captioning, shedding tears just like all of us, as their hands moved swiftly and precisely over the keyboard that Ward Stone Ireland created for us to use in 1911, you would have been lost. We all have a skill that is truly a gift that cannot be replaced with a digital/video recording device. And if they don’t or can’t understand that, remind them about 9/11.”
For more information about NCRA’s mini conventions, contact Lynette R. Eggers, NCRA’s Assistant Director of Educational Services at 800-272-6272 or 703-556-6272, ext.173.
The Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, Pa., scored first place with 100 percent of its students holding membership in NCRA’s first contest held to generate student affiliation with the association. The college earns a free mini convention from NCRA that will be tailored specifically to the school’s needs.
The contest, which ran in November through early December, invited schools to encourage their students to join NCRA. Each school’s percentage of students holding membership in NCRA was based upon the total enrollment number as reported in 2013, compared to the number of students associated with the school as of Dec. 16. Each court reporting school was provided with a membership packet that included membership forms, contest rules, and information about the many benefits NCRA offers students, such as low membership fees of $6 per month, deep discounts in the association store, subsidized convention registration fees, and career resources for future job placement.
The competition drew a total of 22 participating court reporting schools across the nation. Earning second and third place were Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Ala., and Alfred State College in Alfred, N.Y., with a NCRA student membership rate of 70 percent and 64 percent respectively.
The winning school will not be eligible to compete again in the NCRA membership contest until 2016. The following rounded out the top 10 schools with highest percentage of student membership in NCRA during the contest:
Miami-Jacobs Career College in Independence, Ohio with a 60 percent student membership;
Realtime Center for Learning, Inc., in Westbury, N.Y., with 60 percent student membership;
College of Court Reporting, Inc., in Hobart, Ind., with 56 percent student membership;
Green River Community College in Auburn, Wash., with 44 percent student membership;
Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn., with 43 percent student membership;
Macomb Community College in Warren, Mich., with 36 percent student membership;
Sumner College in Portland, Ore., with a 32 percent student membership.
Other schools that reported NCRA student membership increases during the contest included:
Atlantic Technical Center, Coconut Creek, Fla.;
Bryan University, Los Angeles, Calif.;
MacCormac College, Chicago, Ill.;
Prince Institute, Schaumburg, Ill.;
Sage College, Moreno Valley, Calif.;
San Antonio College, San Antonio, Texas;
Sheridan Technical Center, Hollywood, Fla.;
South Coast College, Orange, Calif.;
Southwest Tennessee Community College, Memphis, Tenn.;
Stautzenberger College, Maumee, Ohio;
StenoTech Center Career Institute, Piscataway, N.J.