Experience the magic of Las Vegas at the NCRA Convention & Expo

Convention_FB_cover photoCatch the magic of savings by registering now for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 10-13 in Las Vegas, Nev. Register by July 4 and take advantage of special rates negotiated for hotel rooms at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the official Convention hotel, and on registration fees for the event. After July 4, the savings on both rooms and registration fees will disappear as rates go up.

The NCRA Convention & Expo is the once-a-year largest gathering of members, court reporting students, teachers, school administrators, legal videographers, and vendors serving the profession and the 2017 event will be no exception. Experience a Premier Session like no other NCRA has ever offered at this year’s Convention, happening in one of the most exciting venues ever.

Attendees who register now to stay in the discounted Convention room block at Planet Hollywood will be automatically entered to win one of two full refunds of their entire registration to the event. In addition, attendees who register to stay at Planet Hollywood on Friday and Saturday nights are eligible to win one of six new Kindle Fire tablets in a giveaway.

Register now to experience the magic of the NCRA Convention & Expo and the special savings on room and registration costs before the chance vanishes.

The magic is at your fingertips

Join hundreds of NCRA members, court reporting students, teachers, and school administrators in Las Vegas, Nev., for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, Aug. 10-13.

Registration is now open for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 10-13 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nev. Members can take advantage of special rates negotiated for their stay at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the official hotel of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo.

  • Sunday, Aug. 6 – Thursday, Aug. 10: $109 per night
  • Friday, Aug. 11 – Saturday, Aug. 12: $199 per night

Each year, Convention attendees note the many conveniences and benefits of staying at the event’s host hotel, including easy access to the Expo Hall and meeting spaces. This year’s host hotel promises the same and much more. Being connected to the Miracle Mile, guests of Planet Hollywood will also enjoy immediate access to some of the best dining, entertainment, and shopping opportunities that Las Vegas has to offer.

In addition, NCRA members who book their stays at Planet Hollywood & Casino also have a significant impact on helping to keep lodging and event costs down for future conventions by ensuring the Association meets its room block.

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“NCRA is committed to supporting its members by providing the best value possible. One such member benefit includes lower lodging rates and registration fees related to annual events,” said Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, NCRA President-elect. “We appreciate our members who are committed to supporting their Association by taking advantage of the special room rates negotiated on their behalf with Planet Hollywood. The 2017 Convention & Expo — ‘Magic at Your Fingertips!’ — is sure to be an exciting and fun-filled event.”

As always, the Convention schedule is jam-packed with educational sessions, the latest in new products and services showcased on the Expo Hall floor, and an array of networking opportunities that can’t be found anywhere else.

NCRA’s Education Content Committee has planned a series of carefully curated sessions to support the growth of every reporter and captioner, featuring can’t-miss sessions on business, captioning, judicial reporting, realtime, and technology. There will also be specialized programs, including the student seminar, Teachers Workshop, and the Certified Realtime Captioner Workshop. In addition, Margie Wakeman Wells, CRI, will again present her Punctuation Workshop.

The Convention will also feature a number of networking opportunities that will help attendees make contacts with fellow professionals from across the country and around the world. Networking sessions include:

  • the Opening Reception on Thursday evening
  • Friday morning’s Premier Session
  • the Saturday Awards Luncheon
  • the President’s Party on Saturday night

Attendees can also participate in the governance of the association by attending the Annual Business Meeting held on Thursday, where members can offer their opinions on the direction of the association and ask questions of the board members.

For more information or to register, visit NCRA.org/convention.

Other highlights:

  • Engage in some lively competition with the national Speed and Realtime Contests, or just come to watch some of the top reporters in the world battle it out for the trophy. (The winners are announced during the Awards Luncheon along with other distinguished guests.)
  • Participate in the governance of your Association at the Annual Business Meeting, where members can offer their opinions on the direction of the Association and ask questions of the Board members.
  • Don’t miss this year’s Premier Session. The Premier Session includes the installation of NCRA’s incoming Board of Directors, the announcements of NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award recipient (the Association’s highest honor) and NCRA’s Educator of the Year, and — of course — the keynote. This year our keynote is big — think Vegas, think positivity, think about the magic that is at your fingertips every day.
  • Find out what’s happening in each of the states during the National Committee of State Associations meeting. State leaders use this time to exchange information about the latest legislative and other issues affecting court reporting and captioning professionals.

2017 NCRA Convention & Expo student track sessions

Steno Speed Dating

Here is your chance to have a face-to-face conversation with a court reporter or CART or broadcast captioner in a round of Steno Speed Dating. You’ll have 15 minutes with each representative to ask the questions you’ve always wondered about. Ever wondered how a speed champ writes like the wind? How does a reporter get a witness to stop interrupting? Do captioners really wear their pajamas to work? How on earth do you prep to provide CART for a Computer Science 225: Pseudorandomness class?

This will be the perfect time to find out what keeps these professionals motivated and passionate, and what it takes to compete at high-speed levels while still maintaining their daily jobs as a court reporter or CART or broadcast captioner .

Presenters: Dee Boenau, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR; Linda Christensen, RMR, CRR, CRC; Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR; Cheryl Haab, RPR; Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Stanley Sakai, CRC; Jennifer Schuck, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Joe Strickland, RPR, CRR, CRC; and Doug Zweizig. RDR, CRR

 

Business of Being a Reporter

School may have prepared you to take down testimony, but what does it really look like when you’re on that deposition or court case? How do you conduct yourself around attorneys, witnesses, or even the judge? What do you do when things get crazy, and you’re about to lose the record? What does it mean to mark an exhibit? What’s it look like when you’re hooked up for a realtime job? If you consider yourself a visual learner, then this is the session for you! Our professional reporters will demonstrate real-world scenarios in a mock setting to show you the ins and outs of what it’s like on an actual job — play-by-play commentary included!

Presenters: Michael Hensley, RPR; Charisse Kitt, RMR, CRI; Jessie Waack, RDR, CRR

 

How to Compete with Some of the Best

Join the Fabulous Fraziers and realtime champ Ron Cook to talk about how they prepare for the Speed and Realtime Contests and how this preparation can benefit your progress in school. Come get encouragement and learn some fun tips to help push you through your school journey.

Presenters: Ron Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC; Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC; Clay Frazier, RMR, CRR; Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR

 

Online Skills Testing — See It for Yourself!

By now you’ve heard that NCRA skills tests have been moved online. But, what exactly does that mean and how does it affect you, if at all? No doubt, you have lots of questions, so let’s try to answer them. In this seminar, Marybeth Everhart will review the entire online testing process, from registration to completion — soup to nuts, you might say.

What equipment will you need? Where can you test? Who is ProctorU and how are they involved? For answers to these questions and more, you’ll want to attend this seminar!

Presenter: Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI

 

Read the speaker bios here.

2017 NCRA Convention & Expo student track speaker bios

The following reporters and captioners will be speaking as part of the student track at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo. The event will run Aug. 10-13 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Read the sessions descriptions here.

BoenauDee Boenau, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Dee Boenau is a realtime captioner and a convention reporter. She entered the profession in 1992 as a freelance deposition reporter and then entered the fields of realtime captioning in 1995 and convention reporting in 2000. Since 2001, she has won the Realtime Contest twice, placed 2nd six times, and 3rd three times. In addition, Boenau placed 2nd in the Intersteno Speech Capturing Competition in Paris in 2011 and 2nd in the NCRA Speed Contest in 2013.

 

Bryce 2014Jo Ann Bryce, RMR, CRR

Jo Ann Bryce has been a reporter for 42 years. She is a Registered Merit Reporter, Certified Realtime Reporter, California Certified Shorthand Reporter, and Federal Certified Realtime Reporter. She is currently an official reporter for the Northern District of California federal court in San Francisco. Bryce is a five-time National Realtime Champion, and at the 2014 NCRA Convention & Expo in San Francisco, she won both the National Speed and Realtime Contests. In total, she has five gold medals.

 

Linda S. Christensen, RMR, CRR, CRC

Linda S. Christensen is a graduate of Stenotype Institute of South Dakota. She lived 15 years in the beautiful state of Washington, enjoying life as both a freelancer and official. In 1998, she moved to the desert of Arizona and continued freelancing until 2007, when she transitioned into a varied career including CART, sports reporting, legal reporting, and transcribing. As a sports reporter, Christensen travels the world roughly 25 weeks a year covering professional tennis and golf events. She enjoys mentoring students and speaking at state seminars on the many different jobs within the fabulous skill of stenography. When Christensen is not tapping on her Luminex, you can find her in a botanical garden somewhere in the world or babying her own citrus trees and flowers in her Central Phoenix home and garden.

 

everhartMarybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI

Marybeth Everhart has been reporting since 1980 and writing realtime since 1992. She has been a freelance reporter in the Baltimore-Washington area; an official reporter in Brisbane, Australia; provided CART services to such organizations as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People and the Neurofibromatosis Foundation; captioned for Gallaudet University; managed a large, multi-office freelance firm; taught court reporting at all levels; and trained on numerous CAT systems over the years. She has been a certified advanced trainer for Eclipse since 1994 and has presented hundreds of seminars and trainings on dozens of Eclipse-related topics.

Everhart is now the national marketing manager for Realtime Coach and works closely with reporting schools, firms, and court systems to increase speed and improve accuracy for students and working reporters. She has served as a member of the NCRA Future Group, the NCRA Reporter Education Commission, the Council on Approved Student Education, and the Maryland Court Reporters Association Education Committee. Everhart currently serves as a contributing editor to the JCR (Journal of Court Reporting) and the Eclipse Users Group Newscache.

 

Frazier family

Left to right: Clay Frazier, Ron Cook, Tami Frazier, and Chase Frazier

Frazier Family: Tami Frazier, RMR, CRR; Clay Frazier, RMR, CRR; and Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC

Ron Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Tami Frazier, proud mom of Clay and Chase Frazier, has been a court reporter in California Superior Court for 36 years. Her love for the profession helped convince Clay and Chase to become court reporters as well.

Clay has been a deposition reporter for eight years, and Chase has been a CART captioner for two years. All three love competing with each other in speed and realtime contests, which is where they met Ron Cook.

Ron Cook has been a deposition reporter for — well, if you ask Tami, since the steno dinosaurs roamed. (He occasionally gets her back by calling her “Mom.”) Cook owns his own deposition agency in Seattle, Washington. Cook won the 2016 NCRA Realtime Contest Q&A leg and was one error away from being crowned the 2016 NCRA Realtime Champion.

 

RichGermosenRich Germosen, RMR, CRR

Rich Germosen is a Certified Realtime Reporter with more than 24 years of experience covering high-end realtime assignments nationwide, especially in New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. He holds the NCRA Realtime Systems Administrator certificate. Germosen has consistently qualified in the NCRA National Speed and Realtime Competitions from 2012 through 2016. In 2016, Germosen also received a 3rd place medal in the Deposition Reporters Association Realtime Contest in the 190 wpm Q&A.

 

Haab2 (2)Cheryl Haab, RPR

Cheryl Haab is a freelance court reporter in Westminster, California. Originally from Canada, she migrated south in the year 2000 in search of a warmer climate and is now happy to call Orange County her home. Haab has served on the Board of Directors of the Deposition Reporters Association (DRA) since 2012, first as secretary-treasurer, followed by several terms as district director, vice president, and now president-elect.

Haab has served as chairperson of DRA’s Student Committee, and she currently serves in a consulting capacity on DRA’s legislative and financial committees, as well as being editor-in-chief of the association’s quarterly publication, the Deposition Reporter. She has also represented the DRA on the national level at several events across the country, including noteworthy leadership, legislative, and strategic planning conferences in Denver, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. She has had her writings published in the JCR (Journal of Court Reporting) and recently appeared in the award-winning court reporting documentary For the Record. Haab most recently served as co-chair of NCRA’s New Professional Committee. In August of 2015, Haab was the recipient of Bryan University’s first Alumni Award for Outstanding Career Achievement.

 

Hensley PicMike Hensley, RPR

Mike Hensley is a new reporter with one year of experience in handling deposition, arbitration, and court settings for live and teleconference communication methods. He has experience working with both boutique-style firms and international firms. He is currently serving on the NCRA New Professionals Committee.

 

Charisse Kitt_squareCharisse Kitt, RMR, CRI

Charisse Kitt has been a court reporter for 24 years. She has worked in the New York Supreme Court, the Eastern District of New York Federal Court, and Fulton County Superior Court (Atlanta, Georgia). Kitt is a Registered Merit Reporter, Certified Reporting Instructor, Certified Shorthand Reporter, and Federal Certified Realtime Reporter. Kitt currently serves as a board member for the New York State Court Reporters Association.

 

Stanley Sakai, CRC

Stanley Sakai is a 28 year-old Certified Realtime Captioner and Certified Shorthand Reporter from Seattle, Washington. He began teaching himself stenography as a faster way to take notes while obtaining his degree in linguistics from the University of Washington. In 2013, he relocated to New York City where he now lives and works as a freelance and CART captioner, offering realtime services in English and Spanish. Sakai is also a hobbyist programmer and uses his coding skills to contribute to projects like Aloft, a caption-streaming app he began in 2015, and Plover, an open-source steno translation engine. Sakai maintains an active Web presence, producing YouTube content and publishing blog posts about various steno-related topics.

 

Schuck Pic_squareJennifer Schuck, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Jennifer Schuck graduated from MacCormac College, Elmhurst, Illinois, in August 1993. She did judicial reporting until 2003. That fall, Schuck had the opportunity to receive training to become a captioner. In December, she left her freelance reporting position full time to start her transition into captioning. Currently, Schuck primarily provides on-site CART in the educational and corporate setting as well as travels for CART jobs. She provides remote CART and does some broadcast captioning as well. She has served as chairperson of the NCRA CART Community of Interest Committee, co-chair of the CART Ethics Taskforce, a member of the NCRA Realtime Certification Committee, and chair of the Arizona Court Reporters Association’s CART committee.

Some of her achievements include the Arizona Court Reporter Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2012, the Hearing Loss Association of America’s Chapter Professional Award in 2011, and 4th place overall in the NCRA Realtime Competition. However, her highest achievement was placing 3rd in the realtime competition at the Intersteno Congress in Paris in 2011 and Budapest in 2015. Schuck was inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters at the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo in Chicago.

 

Sonntag2_squareMelanie Humphrey-Sonntag, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC

Melanie Humphrey-Sonntag has lived and breathed reporting since she discovered the profession as a junior in high school. It’s the only career she’s ever had, and in her more than 35 years of reporting, she has worked as an official, freelancer, firm owner, and occasional CART captioner. She’s a Registered Diplomate Reporter, Certified Realtime Reporter, Certified Realtime Captioner, and Fellow of NCRA’s Academy of Professional Reporters. She’s served on many committees and boards, including as president of the Wyoming, Colorado, and National Court Reporters Associations. She’s a perennial contestant in state and national speed and realtime contests, having placed as high as 2nd in NCRA’s Speed Contest on two occasions and won the Colorado and Illinois contests numerous times. She’s given seminars to students, reporters, vendors, and the public since 1993. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for MacCormac College, the nation’s oldest reporting program. In 2015, Humphrey-Sonntag transitioned to Planet Depos, an international reporting firm, and she’s now a full-time realtime reporter in their Chicagoland branch, where she loves interacting with attorneys in the field and reporting varied and interesting cases.

 

StricklandJoe Strickland, RPR, CRR, CRC

Joe Strickland has been a reporter since 1990. He was a closed captioner for KVIA in El Paso, Texas, and a freelance reporter in the Washington, D.C. area. In 1993, he joined the U.S. House of Representatives as an official reporter. During his 22 years with the House, he served as an official reporter to house committees, an official reporter of debates, deputy chief reporter, and 10 years as chief reporter, supervising a 43-member staff. He has reported the State of the Union addresses of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Strickland retired from federal service in 2015 and is again a freelance reporter in Washington, D.C.

 

Waack Pic_squareJessie Waack, RDR, CRR

Jessie Waack has been a freelance reporter for 20 years. After graduating from Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wisconsin, she worked for 17 years in Milwaukee as a staff reporter. From there, she moved to San Francisco, California, for two years. After that, she moved to New York City where she has continued working as a freelance reporter and building her own clients. Waack has attained her Registered Diplomate Reporter, Certified Realtime Reporter, and Realtime System Administrator certifications. Waack also holds the California Certificate in Realtime Reporting, and the New Jersey Certified Court Reporter, New York Realtime Court Reporter, and New York Association Certified Reporter certifications.

 

ZweizigDoug Zweizig, RDR, CRR

A 1989 graduate of Central Pennsylvania Business School (now Central Pennsylvania College), Doug Zweizig earned his associate’s degree and moved from a small town to Philadelphia where he began work as a freelance court reporter. Initially covering car accidents and workers’ compensation matters, he later began covering medical malpractice, public hearings, etc. A limited amount of CART work was interspersed in those years, something he found most rewarding.

In 2001, Zweizig began as an official court reporter in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia. He covered a wide range of work: drug cases, assaults, and especially homicide trials. On the civil side, he covered medical malpractice, mass tort pharmaceutical cases, construction, and discrimination. After many rewarding years there, he accepted a position in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, where he’s currently working. There he handles criminal matters, including large drug conspiracies, racketeering, bank fraud, and occasionally a murder trial. On the civil side, he covers patent cases, maritime, discrimination, etc. Zweizig has several medals in speed and realtime contests, winning the National Realtime Contest in 2006 and 2015.

NCSA 2017 challenge winner exceeds last year’s win

Erminia_NCSA_squareFor the past three years, the National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) has issued a friendly challenge among state associations and individuals to spread the word about the benefits of a career in career in court reporting or captioning. Participants had the chance to win complimentary registrations to NCRA events or vouchers for continuing education. Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from San Antonio, Texas, has won the grand prize of a complimentary registration to the NCRA Convention & Expo for the last two challenges.

In an interview about her first win, Uviedo said her goal was to win again in 2017 by beating her own record of coordinating participation in 26 school career fairs. And top honors she did earn by coordinating volunteers for participation in 32 career fairs and college nights in the San Antonio area.

The JCR Weekly reached out to her to learn more about what motivates her to put so much effort into promoting the profession.

How many career fairs did you organize for court reporters to participate in during this last NCSA challenge?

I contacted, reserved tables, and coordinated volunteers for 32 career fair/college nights, mainly in San Antonio, but also reached out to some schools in South Texas, West Texas, and North Texas.

How many of those did you participate in?

I participated in seven events as a presenter.

How did you identify events to participate?

This year, I tried to add schools we didn’t reach last year, and we returned to the schools that had a good setup for meeting students. I also searched the Web for advertisements for college nights for certain areas.

How did you recruit volunteers to help?

I posted on Facebook asking for volunteers again and had a lot of returning volunteers. They were so excited to help again. I reached out to certain court reporters I knew in other areas that have always been willing to help. I was very happy with recruitment in the Rio Grande Valley (McAllen and Brownsville). They began recruiting just this year and had seven successful events. I expect more activity next year. #teamwork

What is the biggest factor motivating you to reach out to participate in so many career day events?

My motivating factor has been the threat of court reporting school closings. So many court reporting schools have been closing as of late. San Antonio College had that threat a few years ago. We had 37 students enrolled at the time, and I made it my personal goal to see if we could attain 100 student enrollments. With 67 currently enrolled, we are well on our way.

What have some of the responses been from students learning about court reporting for the first time?

Students are always in awe of the technology. They are amazed. When I tell them it’s like texting, they are even more intrigued.

Do you know of any students who have followed a career path in this profession because of career fairs you have participated in?

Yes, I do, more than a couple. I always ask: Where did you hear about us? Some have said career fairs. Some have said Facebook posts. Some just knew somebody who knew somebody who was a court reporter.

Do you serve as a mentor for current court reporting students? If so, why?

Because court reporting is such a unique skill, students need motivation to keep going. Family members and friends don’t understand their frustration in getting a 95 percent on a test. But reporters definitely do. We can definitely relate. Sometimes all students need is a friendly ear.

But working reporters also provide valuable information to students, likes tips on practicing, writing shorter, writing cleaner, dealing with test anxiety, and being professional. All of our San Antonio College court reporting students get sponsored to attend our state convention; every single one. Since our San Antonio Elite Mentorship Program got off the ground two years ago, we have so many more students advancing. The first year we had six sit for the certified shorthand reporter exam, more than we did in many years. This year we expect to have another five, at least.

I am assuming you have fun participating in these events. What is the best part of participating for you?

I love demonstrating realtime for students. I love to write what they are saying, and they get such a kick out of it. They are always fascinated, as are the teachers, counselors, and parents.

What advice would you give to other reporters thinking of participating in career fairs?

I would definitely tell them it’s a team effort. If they can get together a group of reporters who are all willing to cover these fairs in a certain area, that would be the best approach. Reporters’ schedules change daily, so, if a whole team is together and willing, the process of getting them all coordinated and covered will go that much smoother.

What is the best part of attending a national convention?

My first NCRA convention was in Las Vegas back in 2011. At the time, the best part for me was being kept apprised of all the issues facing our profession. I love advancing my skills. The first NCRA convention, I was excited about Realtime Coach. It was just starting. And I loved the concept because I was working on my realtime at the time. This past year, I was excited about attending the captioner’s workshop and learning about the field of captioning.

What are you looking forward to most about this year’s convention?

I loved meeting court reporting students and new reporters last year. I love to hear their stories of where they are working now, where they went to school, what they did to overcome obstacles, or how they practiced. Any tips I can bring back to our students.

You were also a recipient of a JCR Award this year. Were you surprised? What is so important about earning this award?

Yes, I was a little surprised. I feel so honored to have been recognized by NCRA. What an accomplishment! I feel it’s like winning an Emmy.

What is your goal for next year’s NCSA challenge?

I would love to reach more schools in the Rio Grande Valley, try to increase recruitment to 10 next year, as the Rio Grande Valley has been feeling the shortage for a while now and it’s such a wonderful place to live and work.

I feel that every state needs to form a Student Recruitment Committee or Task Force. Map out your state and get to work! It’s not difficult at all. There are plenty of schools and recruiting opportunities. We just need the volunteers to cover them. We can keep our court reporting schools open!

Things to learn, people to meet: Navigating the NCRA Convention & Expo as a student

Three smiling female students at the NCRA Convention & ExpoCourt reporting students agree: Meeting new people and learning new things are the best reasons to attend a conference like the NCRA Convention & Expo. Students who have attended one of the past Conventions share their advice for making the most out of the experience, just in time for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, Aug. 10-13, at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

Network, network, network

Without a doubt, networking is one of the top reasons to attend a convention, and the Convention atmosphere itself helps. “Conventions are just a lot of fun. Reporters have a great time when they’re all together,” says Sarah Hamilton, a student at the College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind.

The NCRA Convention & Expo is the largest gathering of court reporters and captioners in the country, so students have a good chance of meeting a wide range of working professionals, including people students may already be familiar with. “It’s great to put a face to a name,” said Hamilton.

“I’ve met people who’ve really made me feel lucky, and that I’ve chosen the right field,” said Kristina Carmody, a student at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio. Carmody mentioned a few examples of working reporters who have helped her with advice: “Steve Zinone, RPR, is the most humble, easiest person to talk to. He not only motivated me to continue the hard work, but he reminded of all the success we can really achieve if we continue to work for it. He is unbelievably positive and so nice.” She also mentioned Sue Terry, RPR, CRR. “She has advice and experience in every avenue, and she’s been so generous and sweet to me. She has told me how to keep pushing through doubts and given great pointers to practice.”

Networking can be intimidating, but court reporting students have found a few strategies to help. Larona Cooper, a student at MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill., suggests being proactive and introducing yourself to other court reporters. She also suggests “preparing a couple of questions in advance to ask other court reporters to assist you in your career choice” as an icebreaker.

Katelyn Van Slycke, a student at San Antonio College in San Antonio, Texas, says, “Find a working reporter and tag along with them. Have someone who will invite you to sit with them or go out on the town with them. It makes a big difference when you’re in a new city.”

Students and the NCRA Board of Directors mingle at Convention

Christine Willette, 2017-2018 NCRA President, mingles with students at a Board of Directors meet-and-greet at the NCRA Convention & Expo

A few of the scheduled events can help with networking. Shaunise Day, a student at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., says, “Attend the Awards Luncheon and sit at a table where you don’t know anyone. You will walk away feeling proud and inspired.” Jessica Frizzell, a student at College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., recommends going to the president’s suite to meet the NCRA Board of Directors, which is part of the student track.

Feeling shy? Frizzell suggests wearing the student ribbon on your name badge — it will do the work for you. “I was a bit shy and nervous at first and didn’t know who to talk to or how to approach them,” she says. “If you wear that student ribbon, people will come to you!”

However a student chooses to network, the point is to use these conversations to your advantage. “You need to truly listen to what someone is telling you even if you think you’re years away from ever encountering such a thing,” says Hamilton. “Really be open-minded about the advice you receive and know that working reporters sincerely want to help you because they are so passionate about this profession.”

The Convention can also provide a boost in inspiration. “I enjoy my schooling and enjoy this profession, but the people I met and spoke with at Convention reminded me of why I’m working so hard and lit a fire in me to practice even harder so I can get out there and be a part of the working world,” says Frizzell.

Of course, the true value of networking happens after the event. “Make an effort to stay in touch with friends you make during the Convention,” says Christine Ho, a student at Mark Kislingbury’s Academy of Court Reporting. Follow up with everyone you meet once you get home, and then contact them regularly with updates, questions, or a simple hello. After all, one of your new contacts may be a future employer.

Getting the most out of sessions

The NCRA Convention & Expo includes a student track with sessions and activities that are designed to motivate students, help them find a community, and learn new strategies of getting through school.

Michael Roberts, a student at Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta, Ga., attended a session entitled “Finishing your program: You can do this!” given by Eileen Beltz at the 2017 Convention in Chicago. “Hearing stories from others who have had the same struggles is encouraging because you find out you’re not the only one dealing with these conflicts,” he says.

Kensie Benoit and Clay Frazier present at the NCRA Convention & Expo

Kensie Benoit and Clay Frazier present at the NCRA Convention & Expo

Day cites the session “What I Didn’t Learn in Court Reporting School” from the 2015 Convention in San Francisco, given by Kensie Benoit and Clay Frazier, RMR, CRR, as particularly motivating. “I was on the verge of deciding to give up a few months prior, and it wasn’t until I sat in on this seminar and realized that I can and will finish school despite my many challenges with working full time and going to school full time,” she says. She also learned about the many steno Facebook groups during this session.

Sessions are also a good way to meet working reporters who you admire. Cooper found the “Punctuation for the Real World” seminar moderated by Margie Wakeman Wells, CRI, at the 2017 Convention in Chicago, to be particularly helpful. “I could have listened to her all day to glean wisdom from her years of experience,” she said. “She directed the students in her seminar to read and practice our steno outlines from business magazines such as Newsweek and Time in order to increase our vocabulary, knowledge of current events, and steno writing skills.”

Linda Perez, a student at Downey Adult School in Downey, Calif., points out that one of the reasons to attend Convention is “to learn up-to-date demands in the work field.” The student track includes a couple time slots in which students can attend any session they want, and many students who have attended before recommend sitting in on a few of the sessions that are geared toward working professionals.

Carmody sat in on a session on writing more efficiently. “It was nice to have new pointers and to be able to hear different perspectives and opinions from multiple professionals, students, and schools,” she said.

Mixing and mingling in the Expo Hall

Don’t forget that the Convention includes an Expo Hall with vendors representing a variety of products and services and NCRA staff members with information about different NCRA programs and resources. In addition, several social events are held in the Expo Hall, including the Opening Reception. Day suggests using the Expo Hall as a place to mingle — with so many people around, you’re bound to make a connection.

A man in a suit shows a steno machine to a reporter at the Expo Hall

Trying a new machine at the Expo Hall

The Expo Hall also provides students the opportunity to begin planning what they’ll need once they enter the working world. “Talk to all the vendors about their products even if buying expensive equipment is still far in the future for you,” recommends Hamilton. Day advises also trying out different writers.

Alternatively, students may find resources in the Expo Hall that can help them right away. Day says, “Make a list of books that you’ve always wanted, and purchase them at the Expo. Books are normally sold at a discounted Convention rate.”

Top ten tips for students attending the NCRA Convention & Expo

  1. Find a reporter who you can pair up with if you are by yourself.
  2. Load the NCRA app before attending to get an overview of the Convention.
  3. If you are in higher speeds, sit in on some of the regular (not student) seminars.
  4. Court reporters love students! So be prepared to mingle with reporters who come up to you.
  5. Attend Convention as a group with other students to maximize your experience.
  6. It can be very overwhelming at times, so make sure you slow down and try to relax.
  7. Be on time to all student seminars, and sit in front.
  8. Make student business cards.
  9. Every single day at the convention has something new. Try to get as much knowledge as possible with everything being offered.
  10. Talk to as many people as you can.

And the number one tip for court reporting students thinking of attending the NCRA Convention & Expo? Perez sums it up: “Do it. Go. It is an investment.”

Rub shoulders with the pros

Court reporting students and the NCRA president and CEO stand in front of the Take Note campaign sign

Photo by: Nicole Napodano. Used with permission.

The NCRA Convention & Expo provides students the best opportunity to learn from the pros and experience the court reporting and captioning professions through the eyes of experienced reporters and captioners.

The 2017 Convention is no exception. Students who attend will have the opportunity to hear seasoned professions present on topics including the business of being a reporter, how to compete at the national level, and the best tips for online testing. In addition, attendees can meet and mingle with NCRA members from all arenas of the profession during a special student reception, rub shoulders with members of the Board of Directors during another reception, and get up and personal with vendors during the Opening Reception held on the Expo floor. The 2017 Convention is Aug. 10-13 in Las Vegas, Nev., at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

“You never know where this career will take you,” said Joe Strickland, RPR, CRR, CRC, retired chief reporter at the U.S. House of Representatives who will be presenting during the student track at this year’s event.

Strickland said he attended his first NCRA convention when he was still in court reporting school. “I knew no one. I’ll never forget attending the Awards Luncheon. I wandered in and had to sit with seven strangers. I was intimidated by the ballroom full of professionals who all seemed to know each other, but my concerns were allayed by my warm, friendly tablemates,” Strickland said.

“They immediately introduced themselves and asked me where I reported. When I told them I was a student, they all chimed in with enthusiastic, encouraging words. They made me feel like I was already a part of their team,” he added.

Strickland will be participating in a reporter speed-dating session where participants will rotate from table to table and spend 10 or 15 minutes with working reporters to discuss their varied careers. “I think it’s a terrific idea, and I’m looking forward to meeting the students who join us in Las Vegas,” he said.

Nicole Bulldis, RPR, said she attended two of NCRA’s Conventions & Expos while a student, taking away both energy and passion from the working reporters she met on-site. Bulldis graduated from Green River Community College, Auburn, Wash., last June.

“In school, all you see is you and your peers struggling. It was amazing to go to Convention and see people who had been reporting for 20 to 30 years be so passionate and motivating about this field. I still remember Nancy Varallo sharing her favorite quote in Nashville: Success does not happen by spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire. That quote helped me finish school,” added Bulldis, who noted that she began her career as a paralegal before moving to court reporting. She currently works as an official court reporter for the Benton/Franklin County Superior Courts in Kennewick, Wash.

Doreen Sutton, RPR, a freelance reporter from Scottsdale, Ariz., and chair of NCRA’s Student Committee, encourages students to attend the Convention because of the opportunity it provides them to learn about current events and reporting software options, and to network with other students and professional reporters.

“I would like students to get to know working reporters, learn about the practice opportunities, and meet some wonderful reporters in each practice,” said Sutton. “I would like students to fall in love with attending Convention, like I did when I was just in my 60s speed, and resolve to try and attend convention each year. Plus, you never know when there will be special student surprises.”

Strickland agrees and encourages students to become familiar with the many options the field offers (including freelance, official, captioning, CART services, and legislative) because no one’s career path is identical to another’s.

“In my legislative career, I was honored to report State of the Union speeches by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. I reported the testimony of world leaders, CIA and FBI directors, movie star activists, and industry giants. I provided CART for a late-deafened judge as he testified before the House Judiciary Committee. In 2002, I reported a Special Joint Session held in New York to honor the victims of 9/11. It’s been quite a journey,” added Strickland, who retired after 22 years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives and works now as a part-time freelancer and a full-time traveler.

Learn about the speakers on the student track.

NCRA announces 2017-2018 slate of nominees

NCRA announced the slate of nominees selected by its Nominating Committee to serve in 2017-2018. NCRA’s membership will vote on the nominations at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, Aug. 10-13, in Las Vegas, Nev.

The slate of officers includes:

  • President-Elect: Sue A. Terry, RPR, CRR, Springfield, Ohio
  • Vice President: Doreen Sutton, RPR, Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, Woodland, Utah

Also nominated to serve three-year Director terms are:

  • Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, Webster, NY
  • Robyn M. Hennigan, RPR, CRI, Springfield, OH
  • Tonya J. Kaiser, RPR, CMRS, Fort Wayne, IN

Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, Wausau, Wis., will automatically succeed to the office of President.

Five minutes with Realtime Champ Dee Boenau

Deanna Boenau_2016 Realtime ContestThe JCR reached out to Dee Boenau, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner in Sarasota, Fla., about her Realtime Contest win, the importance of realtime, practice tips, and using the spotlight to promote the profession.

What appealed to you about competing in the speed and realtime contests?

I’ve always competed just as a way to see how my skills have improved. It’s fun and exciting to see how the changes I have made to my theory over the years have increased my speed and accuracy.

 Do you have a preference on which one you would prefer to win?

I like to win the Realtime Contest because realtime writing is what I do, and I believe realtime translation is the lifeblood of court reporting and captioning. However, I would not mind adding the prestigious title of Speed Contest Champion to my achievements and having my name added to the historical list of greats in our profession.

 How do you find the two contests different?

I write both contests in the mind-set of realtime. There really is no difference to me other than the faster speed and the opportunity for editing in the Speed Contest. Nerves can be devastating, though, in the Realtime Contest. If the nerves creep in during the Speed Contest, I know I have a chance to edit it. I guess I am a little harder on myself just before the Realtime Contest because of nerves.

Have you been practicing for the upcoming contests?

I do practice close to the time of the contests. I simply don’t have the time to practice year-round. I prefer to actively use my skills in the real world and to further enhance my ability to make a living. Whether I am reporting or captioning, I always review my work. I can’t stress enough to captioners the importance of reading one’s work and looking up what one missed. Over the years, too, practice would be boring to me because it was always the same dictation tapes. Now there are new programs on the market, like ev360 Ultimate, that take practicing to a whole different level and make it fun, too. The last couple of years I’ve been practicing more because of the program.

What advice would you have for a person who has never been in a speed contest before? How can they get started?

Just do it. Sign up and jump right in. The contests may humble you and inspire you at the same time. You could be the next Jeffrey Weigl, RMR, CRR, CRC, or Julianne LaBadia,  RDR, CRR, CRC.

You’ve received quite a lot of coverage based on your wins in the past few years. What has that been like? Do you have any advice for other reporters or captioners who find themselves in the limelight?

When I found myself in the limelight, I spoke with passion. I love writing on the steno machine; it is my favorite piece of technology. Without the steno machine, I could not do my job as a reporter making a record and as a captioner providing communication accessibility to thousands of people. You can’t go wrong talking about what you love because it all comes so naturally. When I first won the Realtime Contest, I was thrilled with the machine I was using and enjoyed talking about it and the technology behind it. When a person speaks with such passion about his or her profession and the advancing technology, it can only inspire others to inquire about court reporting or captioning.

Is there any advice you can give to other NCRA members on how each of us can be an advocate for our profession?

Be the best you can be. Stand up for what is right. Keep the professional image alive.

Any questions we missed or should have asked?

I want to thank NCRA and the Contests Committee for continuing to support the contests. It is a huge undertaking and a sacrifice of convention time for the committee members. I’ve heard that they are often grading papers when people are returning from late-night festivities. Admittedly, the contests are a large part of the reason why I’ve attended the convention 17 years in a row. Yes, I learn from the seminars, but the contests give the convention the wow factor. Thank you, NCRA, past sponsors, and any future sponsors!

Read our interview with Speed Champ Jeff Weigl.

Mark your calendars with learning opportunities through NCRA

calendar

Photo by Dafne Cholet

Make your plan to earn CEUs and tackle your educational needs this year. Whether you are working toward earning your RPR or your cycle ends Jan. 31 or Sept. 30, NCRA can help you get ahead.

In addition, NCRA members can earn CEUs by passing the skills or written portion of certain tests, such as the RMR, RDR, CRR, or CLVS exams.

Here is a short selection of dates and events (dates are subject to change).

Jan. 31 — 9/30/16 cycle extension deadline

Feb. 12-14 — 2017 Firm Owners Executive Conference, Tucson, Ariz.

March 1-31 — Registration period for April RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

April 5 — Second quarter online skills test registration opens

April 8-20 — RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Test dates

June 1-30 — Registration period for July RPR and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

July 5 — Third quarter online skills test registration opens

July 8-20 — RPR and CLVS Written Knowledge Test dates

Aug. 10-13 — 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, Las Vegas, Nev.

Sept. 1-30 — Registration period for October RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

Sept. 30 — Submission deadline for CEUs and PDCs for members with a 9/30/17 cycle ending

Oct. 5 — Fourth quarter online skills test registration opens

Oct. 7-19 — RPR, RDR, CRC, and CLVS Written Knowledge Tests

Court Reporting & Captioning Week (Feb. 11-18), Memorial Day (May 30), and Veterans Day (Nov. 11) are also all good opportunities to schedule Veterans History Project Days to earn PDCs. And don’t forget that online skills testing is available year round.

In addition, NCRA is planning webinars throughout the year, which will be announced in the JCR Weekly and on the NCRA Facebook and Twitter pages as they are available. Watch for more information in the JCR, in the JCR Weekly, and on TheJCR.com for registration, deadlines, and other ideas to earn continuing education.