Highlights from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo: A student’s experience

Four young women pose in matching light blue shirts with steno written on the front

MacCormac students wear matching shirts at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo: (l-r) Ariel Kraut, Brianna Uhlman, Marissa Loring, and Hailey Treasure

By Ariel Kraut

I am very appreciative for the time I got to spend at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas. What a fun and vibrant location for court reporters to come together and connect as a community!

On our first day, we visited the Expo Hall and got to explore many innovations in reporting technology. Things that I never even thought of, like ergonomic machines, different types of travel bags, all kinds of software, and much more, were on display. We got some great swag and were able to connect with vendors from all types of companies related to the field. I loved the neon light-up writer!

It was amazing to see all of the different types of new technology associated with the Stenograph machines knowing that I will soon be purchasing my own when I finish school. I really enjoyed watching a demonstration involving the audio-recording capabilities of the Luminex writer. Not only can you direct it to go back to the last question you asked in a testimony dictation, but the audio-sync feature allows you to listen to the actual dictation in addition to seeing the question on your screen. If only I had that available during tests!

My favorite part of the Convention was the being able to speak with reporters from all different fields. It was exciting to have so many people come up to us, knowing that we were students, and introduce themselves. All of the pros were so warm and welcoming to us. People from all over the country were so happy to see us students and had nothing but the most encouraging things to say. I even spoke with the President of NCRA multiple times and felt great about it. It was inspiring to see that many of the people we spoke with actually won awards for the Speed and Realtime Contests and were honored during the luncheon.

An especially good time for networking was in the “Steno Speed Dating” part of the first day of the student track. We got to sit with very successful reporters, including speed contest winners, realtime writers, captioners, and even a court reporter who worked in the House of Representatives. It is inspiring to see the places that this career can take you if you apply yourself. I also appreciated hearing about these professionals’ school experiences and what the biggest struggles were for each of them. I got some practice tips and some great advice as to how I can clean up my notes and build my speed at the same time.

Another very beneficial session was “Business of Being a Court Reporter.” There, we got to see a mock deposition take place with a panel of professional reporters pausing to explain certain parts of the process. They would also tell us what they would do if something unusual would happen and frequent issues that may come up on the job.

I am very thankful that I was able to attend this Convention as I found it reinvigorating for me as a student. School can be stressful sometimes, but seeing all of these successful women and men in the field made me feel like I was on the right track and I have a great life to look forward to in this field.

Ariel Kraut is a student at MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill. She can be reached at akraut@maccormac.edu.

Read “Finding court reporters’ paradise” by MacCormac student Brianna Uhlman

Finding court reporters’ paradise

By Brianna Uhlman

The NCRA Convention & Expo is like the Shangri-la of court reporting. The things you learn, the relationships you build, and the experiences you take with you are irreplaceable. You leave motivated to finish school and determined to make the most out of your time in this profession.

Four young women pose in matching light blue shirts with steno written on the front

MacCormac students wear matching shirts at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo: (l-r) Ariel Kraut, Brianna Uhlman, Marissa Loring, and Hailey Treasure

The Expo Hall at the NCRA Convention is truly a magical place. Even as a student, the exhibitors are so willing and eager to talk to you and show you all that is new in the world of court reporting. In the Expo Hall, you can learn so much about the newest technology, whether it’s machines, updates in software, etc. You get to test out different machines from all different vendors. You have the opportunity to learn about several different companies that are involved in the court reporting world. You have the opportunity to talk face-to-face with some of the business owners and representatives who you will be working with for the rest of your career. And you can win so much free stuff!

Getting the chance to mingle with some of the top reporters around the country and the globe is such an invaluable experience. Talking with members of the Board, speed contest champions, and the like is extremely motivational. For me personally, I come from a small town with small dreams and not a lot of opportunity. When first enrolling in court reporting school and joining the court reporting community, I had no idea where this career could take me. But at events like the NCRA Convention, you get to know these amazing and successful people who may have come from a situation similar to yours. But because of this profession and all of the opportunity and their personal hard work and dedication, they have taken themselves so far. It makes you dream bigger and work harder for those dreams. It shows you that no matter your background or your current standing, there is no limit to where this profession can take you. If you work hard, stay motivated, and keep pushing yourself to get through school, you can have a very successful and fulfilling career.

Having the opportunity to talk to other students from all over the country is so encouraging. It really makes you realize that you are not alone in the struggles of court reporting school. There is a whole community of students who are having difficulty with speeds, getting stuck in similar areas, and experiencing the same discouragements you are experiencing. But being able to discuss these experiences and learn about other people’s techniques and tricks is so helpful. They are there to encourage you to keep going. Seeing the resilient spirit of other students is inspiring. Experiencing the genuine care and comradery from other students creates such an honest atmosphere of support and sincerity. It truly is a community of people that want to see you succeed in this profession, and that is just not something you see very often.

I am so thankful for the court reporting community. And I am so thankful for the NCRA Convention & Expo that creates the opportunity for this community to come together and create positive, long-lasting impacts on its members and their profession.

Brianna Uhlman is a student at MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill. She can be reached at brianna.uhlman@gmail.com.

Read “Highlights from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo: A student’s experience” by MacCormac student Ariel Kraut

Court reporting students attend FDCC Deposition Boot Camp for real-life experience training

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn June 13, MacCormac College students Alyssa Rufus, Rachel Wolfe, Robyn Falasz, and Shannon Dovgin attended the Deposition Boot Camp hosted by the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel. The Boot Camp consisted of several mock depositions so court reporting students and law students could gain hands-on experience.

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It takes drive to commit to court reporting school

: Kaitlyn Spurgeon, left, and Rachel Otto, right, share a goal and a commute

Kaitlyn Spurgeon, left, and Rachel Otto, right, share a goal and a commute

Court reporting students are much like the professionals in the business they are destined to enter: determined, hardworking, dedicated, and devoted. As with any profession, it can often be a long hard ride to the big time. But in the case of Kaitlyn Spurgeon and Rachel Otto, students at MacCormac College of Court Reporting in Chicago, Ill., the ride each day maybe long, but the support they have for each other in conquering school isn’t very hard to come by.

Spurgeon, a resident of Antioch, Ill., and Otto, a resident of Genoa City, Wis., live about 15 miles apart, and each school day they spend up to two hours a day together commuting each way to MacCormac. Up-to-Speed reached out to them to find out what keeps them motivated and on course in regards to their studies, and why they make the long trek they do several days a week.

Do you find you motivate each other during your commute?

KS — We definitely do motivate each other during the commute. After a long day of work, we do get tired and the drive is difficult, but we try to keep a conversation going to keep us awake and if all else fails, I have my iPod with more than a thousand songs to keep us entertained. We also have a game to try to find license plates from all 50 states.

RO — Kaitlyn and I definitely motivate each other throughout the commute. We will talk about our class and the difficulties we are having, and we also distract each other by playing games.

Some people might think that choosing an online program would be better than committing to a four-hour daily commute to attend brick-and-mortar classes. What would you say to that thinking?

KS — Well, I’ve come to understand that court reporting isn’t an easy skill to learn right away, and I was told by current court reporters that having an actual in-person class would be better for this skill than trying to learn it on my own through an online class.

RO — I like the idea of an online class just because I live on a farm and I am very busy here, but I also really love the school, and I learn best by being there physically and actually being able to see the teacher and ask questions. I think it is a better option for me at the moment.

What time do you leave for school each day and what time do you start your trip home?

KS — We leave for school after work at around 3  p.m. and arrive at school between 5 and 5:30 p.m. We leave school around 8 p.m. and get home between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m., as the traffic home can get pretty bad.

What is the most frustrating factor, besides the length, of your commute?

KS — I think one big downside of the commute isn’t the frustrating part; it’s the downright scary parts. You hear a lot about really bad car accidents, drunk drivers, and now there’s even people shooting each other on the highway. We go pretty fast on the highway along with everyone else, and we’ve both seen how careless a lot of people are when they drive.

How do you make up practice time given that you are on the road so long each day?

KS — I squeeze practice time between my two jobs and school whenever I can. There’s not much room for relaxation time in my world right now, but I’m totally okay with that. I love keeping busy, so whenever I have a chance to sit down, I have a steno machine in front of me.

RO — Practice time is at night. I stay up pretty late, until around 1 a.m., just to get practice in and then go to work at 6 a.m. Practice is very important, and we need time for it. Sleep is for later.

Do your classmates support your dedication to your program?

KS — To be totally honest, almost all of our other classmates have already given up on court reporting and stopped showing up. So Rachael is my only classmate. But yes, she is very supportive, and so is my teacher.

RO — My classroom is just three people including Kaitlyn. They support it and think it is crazy that we drive all the way over there for school.

How far along are you in your court reporting education?

KS — We are just about to wrap up our first semester, and I personally love it. Time really does fly when you’re having fun, and shorthand has been such a blast to learn and use so far.

RO — I am in the first class: Machine Shorthand Theory 1. I am just starting school for court reporting.

What area of the profession do you hope to enter upon graduation: official, freelancer, or CART or broadcast captioner?

KS — Honestly, I’m hoping to dabble in anything I can. I definitely want to be in a courtroom and a lawyer’s office for a while, but I would also love to be a captioner. I think I’ll switch it up every few years.

RO — I am thinking of becoming an official.

What attracted you to a career in court reporting?

KS — Rachael’s aunt has been a court reporter for more than 20 years, and she let us come to her office to see what she does. She pulled out the machine and started typing everything Rachael was saying, and as I watched, I fell in love. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, and right then and there I knew I wanted to learn that skill. Just like some people see someone play and guitar and think, “I want to be like that;” that was me.

RO — My two aunts have been court reporters for more than 28 years, and they absolutely love it. My one aunt kept pushing me to try it out and see if I like it or not. She helped me find a school and went with me to get check out MacCormac.

What would you say to encourage others thinking about entering the field?

KS — It definitely takes a lot of dedication and time, but once you start getting the hang of it, it’s all you think about. Or maybe I’m just crazy. Court reporting is definitely worth it.

RO — I definitely encourage others to practice, practice, practice! Ask any questions you have if you don’t understand anything. Always go to class; missing one thing for learning the keyboard or anything is very bad and will possible set you back.

 

Do you know a student or students who should be in the spotlight? Let us know. Students in the spotlight must currently attend an NCRA-approved court reporting program.

MacCormac College to host “A Toast to Court Reporting”

Students practicing steno

Photo by Crystal Wiley-Brown Photography

Senior leadership, students, and faculty from the court reporting program at MacCormac College, Chicago, Ill., are hosting an open reunion/reception for alumni and professionals attending the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, taking place Aug. 4-7 at the Hilton Chicago.

This evening of celebration and appreciation will take place Fri., Aug. 5 from 6-8 p.m. at the college’s campus located in the heart of historic downtown Chicago at 29 E. Madison St. – minutes from the convention site. Students from the college’s court reporting program will be on hand to help lead walking tour groups to the school from the Hilton Chicago for the reception.

MacCormac College is the premier two-year, private, non-profit institution in the State of Illinois, approved by the National Court Reporters Association and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Founded in 1904, MacCormac is home to the oldest court reporting school in the nation.

In addition to its associate degree program in court reporting, MacCormac College also offers continuing education programs, such as CART and captioning. The continuing education programs were specifically designed for working reporters who are interested in boosting earning potential, bolstering credentials, and growing their career. The entire program taught by accomplished, widely recognized faculty contains three modules, each held on Saturdays to accommodate a full-time work schedule.

To RSVP and for more information about “A Toast to Court Reporting” reception, contact Jenny Dick at jdick@maccormac.edu, or visit the MacCormac College booth in the convention Expo Hall.

For more information or questions about MacCormac’s continuing education program, contact Peg Dorchack at mskalski@maccormac.edu.

NCRA member and alumna gives keynote at MacCormac College spring commencement

MacCormac College, Chicago, Ill., has announced that NCRA member Rhonda Jensen, RDR, CRR, president and founder of Jensen Litigation Solutions, will serve as the keynote speaker for the spring commencement of the school’s court reporting, paralegal studies, criminal justice, and business administration programs. The annual ceremony is held this year on Fri., May 13.

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Increased demand for CART prompts course to help achieve realtime

An increase in the demand for CART services in the Chicago, Ill., metro area recently prompted MacCormac College last fall to launch a course geared toward working reporters and graduates of NCRA-certified court reporting programs wanting to transition to realtime or achieve realtime certification.

“There has been increased demand for CART services in the Chicagoland area,” says the college’s court reporting program director Margaret Sokalski-Dorchack. “Also, official court reporters can move up in salary if they attain realtime certification. Some judicial reporters are looking to transition into CART and captioning.”

Funded by a five-year grant the college received from the U.S. Department of Education’s Training for Realtime Writers grant program, which is part of the Higher Education Affordability Act, MacCormac’s program has attracted attendees with experience ranging from 10 to 20 years of professional reporting, Dorchack notes.

When the program first began, it was conducted over three semesters and included six classes of three hours each for a total of 270 clock hours, she explains. However, based on feedback from the students and the court reporting community, the program was revised and is now being offered as a continuing education program consisting of three modules of 40 hours.

“The first module focuses on improving realtime writing. The second module continues work on improving realtime writing and includes specific instruction on CART. The third module continues work on improving realtime writing and includes specific instruction on captioning,” Dorchack says.

“The students have been enthusiastic and grateful for the program. The courses are designed to help students attain realtime certification. It wasn’t promoted as a prep course specifically. However, it could help to improve speed for realtime certification.”

According to Kathy A. Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC, from Crown Point, Ind., a court reporter with 30 years of experience who has also provided CART and captioning services for 20 years, the course offered by MacCormac is especially useful for reporters who want to spend less time editing out errors, reduce conflicts, improve accuracy, compete in NCRA’s realtime contest, or just plain improve their skills.

“I actually would like to learn how to be a better teacher,” Cortopassi says. She anticipates that having taken the class will help her to achieve her Certified Realtime Instructor certification.

“These classes are intense and focused. One student lowered her untrans rate by 1 percent, which is amazing when you get closer to the 100 percent accuracy rate. She was so happy and proud of her accomplishment and motivated to keep on working on her writing, to improve further, and learn more.”

According to Dorchack, the college plans to offer the realtime-focused course again in 2016. For more information, contact Natasha Meeajane, director of communications, at nmeeajane@maccormac.edu.

Chicago job vacancies rise at the fastest rate in court reporting

MacComac College, Chicago, Ill., issued a press release on July 31 urging budding court reporters to head to Chicago where a wealth of job opportunities in the profession exists. The press release cites the Industry Outlook Report by Ducker Worldwide commissioned by NCRA and notes that by 2018, there will be a need for 1,900 court reporters to fill vacant positions. MacCormac College is the only court reporting program located in the city of Chicago.
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Court reporter has front row seat

In a recent video story posted by the Chicago Sun-Times, court reporters Victoria Rock, RPR, a deposition freelance reporter from Chicago, Marnelle Alexis Stephens, president of MacCormac College in Chicago, and Deralyn Gordon, a captioner and CART provider from Chicago, are interviewed about the court reporting profession including the many opportunities available and what the job entails. A printed article is expected to run in an upcoming Sunday edition of the newspaper.

Watch the video.

MacCormac College celebrates 110th graduation ceremony

Court reporting students graduating from MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill., will participate in the institution’s 110th graduation ceremony on Fri., May 9, at the Mid-America Club. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will address graduates during the ceremony. The NCRA-approved school is also accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and was the first not-for-profit institution to offer a court reporting program among its areas of study.

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