NCRA member named Employee of the Year at Brooklyn Supreme Court

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Brooklyn Daily Eagle (N.Y.) reported on Oct. 6 that NCRA member and senior court reporter Enika Bodnar, RPR, CRI, was named the Employee of the Year at the Brooklyn Supreme Court. Bodnar has been working in the court system since July 1996 and started at Brooklyn Supreme Court in March 2007.

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NCRA member in local media for A to Z program

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyGood Morning Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., aired a piece on Sept. 19 that featured NCRA Director Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, an official court reporter from Webster. The story highlighted what Bonn does as well as emphasized the current need for court reporters and captioners. A second story that also featured Bonn provided insight into what it takes to enter the profession and included information about the A to Z programs she leads in her area.

NCRA member recognized

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Sept. 3, The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Ind.) announced the election of NCRA member Tonya Kaiser, RPR, CMRS, to the NCRA Board of Directors. The announcement was generated by a press release issued by NCRA on Kaiser’s behalf.

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NCRA member in the news

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Shelby County News reported on Aug. 26 that NCRA member Judith Lehman, FAPR, RMR, CRI, an official court reporter from Shelbyville, Ill., was awarded Fellowship in the Academy of Professional Reporters during the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo held in Las Vegas.

The article was generated by a press release issued by NCRA on Lehman’s behalf.

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NCRA members sweep top spots at 2017 world speed competition

Three smiling people stand on a podium of various heights (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) holding certificates. In the background are a collection of international flags.

Sheri Smargon, Jen Schuck, and John Wissenbach stand on the podium at Intersteno. They claimed the top three spots in the Speech Capturing event, seniors division. Photo by Charlie Fiss.

NCRA members dominated the 2017 Intersteno World Speed Competition held during the organization’s 51st Congress, which took place July 22-28 in Berlin, Germany, including a sweep of the top three spots.

Jen Schuck, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, Scottsdale, Ariz., took gold while Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, Riverview, Fla., and Tori Pittman, FAPR, RDR, CRI, Wake Forest, N.C., earned the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

In the Speech Capturing event, seniors division, the top six spots were also claimed by NCRA members Schuck; Smargon; John Wissenbach, RDR, CRR, CRC, San Francisco, Calif.; Jennifer Costales, RMR, CRR, The Hague, Netherlands; Anissa Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI, Boise, Idaho; and Kelly Linkowski, RPR, CRR, CRC, CPE, Rittman, Ohio.

Pittman grabbed first place in the Speech Captioning Voice event, seniors division, while Schuck took home a bronze in the Audio Transcription event, seniors division.

For several of this year’s competitors, the trip to compete at the Intersteno Congress was not their first time. In 2015, Wissenbach earned top honors in the Intersteno Realtime Speech Capturing event, seniors division, held in Budapest, Hungary. Shuck has previously placed third in the world in the Intersteno Realtime Speech Capturing event, seniors division, held in Paris in 2011, and second in the same event held in 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Pittman also competed in the 2015 world competition, ranking 30th in the Realtime Speech Capturing event, seniors division.

The Intersteno competitions follow methods: to take down a text read at an increasing speed or to enter texts and data processed with a computer. In both cases, speed and accuracy determine success.

In the Speech Capturing event, competitors take and transcribe a five-minute dictation at progressive speed. Competitors choose the text to transcribe among three consecutive five-minute legs of dictations given at speeds increased each minute. The initial and final speeds of each dictation are related to the language of the competitors, according to a comparison table set up by the Intersteno Council. At least the first three minutes of dictation must be transcribed successfully. Transcription is handed out on-site on USB sticks or with hand transcription for competitors using traditional shorthand.

In the Audio Transcription event, competitors transcribe a digitally recorded dictation in their mother tongue for 10 minutes. The dictation lasts 15 minutes at a constant and, for the language in question, normal speech speed.

The seniors division is made of all competitors ages 21 and over.

Intersteno, the International Federation for Information and Communication Processing, is a worldwide community with members that represent all manners of information technology, including court reporters and captioners as well as secretaries, teachers, parliamentary reporters, and others who use any technology that produces fast writing. The organization holds its Congress every two years and offers attendees a schedule full of educational sessions, presentations, and competitions in realtime, speed, audio translation, typing, and more. Other activities often include galas and tours of the host city or local area. The event offers attendees a unique view of how the written word captured throughout the world.

For more information about Intersteno, visit Intersteno.org.

NCRA member sworn in as state association director

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Victoria Advocate reported on Aug. 20 that Sonia G. Trevino has been sworn in for a two-year term as area director, seat 5, for the Texas Court Reporters Association.

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NCRA member’s CART work featured in local paper

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn July 11, the Northwest Boomer and Senior News posted an article featuring NCRA member Elizabeth Archer, a CART captioner in Portland, Ore. Archer is the owner of Archer Captioning.

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NCRA member in the news

JCR logoThe Fresno Bee (Calif.) posted an announcement on June 4 about NCRA member Lesia Mervin, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, earning the Certified Realtime Captioner certification. The announcement was prompted by a press release issued by NCRA on Mervin’s behalf.

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NCRA member in the news

JCR logoThe Dispatch, Lexington, Ky., reported on April 24 that NCRA member Amy Brauser earned the nationally recognized Certified Realtime Reporter certification. The story was generated by a press release issued by NCRA.

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NCRA MEMBER PROFILE: Brandi N. Bigalke, RPR

Brandi Bigalke, RPR

Brandi Bigalke, RPR

Currently resides in: Minneapolis, Minn.

Employment type: Freelance court reporter

Member since: 2013

Graduated from: Rasmussen Business College

Theory: Computer-Compatible Stenograph Theory

What are your favorite briefs or tips?

I recently purchased Ed Varallo’s books, and I’m slowly integrating his writing tips. I am already benefiting from this investment – both in time and money.

Why did you decide to enter this profession and how did you learn about the career?

In middle school, as an assignment I had to write to a college and request information.

The college I contacted had a court reporting program, and I became intrigued. After that, I also found out a family acquaintance was a court reporter, and my parents encouraged me to try it.

What has been your best work experience so far in your career?

In 2016, I worked on a large case, spanning over a couple of months. It included multiple realtime hookups, both in the room and streaming. While I had numerous realtime jobs under my belt, this was a first I had to stream a live realtime feed.

A job of this magnitude can be intimidating at first, but the process of learning new technology enhanced my love for what we do. It is rewarding to be challenged and successful in this type of setting.

What was your biggest hurdle to overcome and how did you do so?

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve overcome in this profession is rediscovering my love of it. A few years ago, I let the job get the better of me and had to take a step back from reporting. I was burned out and pursued other business.

Stepping away from court reporting allowed me to see this career through a different lens. I was reminded that as reporters, we possess a unique skill set and I realized I needed to embrace my skill, not waste it. The insights I gained from stepping away reshaped my outlook not only on this profession, but what I wanted out of my career.

Upon my return to reporting full-time, I have realized it is up to me to shape my own career and future. I have control as to what kind of work I take, what firms I want to partner with, and embrace the aspects of this career that drive me.

There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing your steno come up in English, and knowing you provide a very incredible service.

Tell us about a challenge you overcame as a reporter.

One challenge I remember is being a new reporter. I was young, just a few years out of high school. I remember feeling out of my league, working with attorneys who had spent decades building their practice and in walks a young 20-something year old. I remember driving to depositions with butterflies in my stomach. I overcame it by faking it, until eventually I didn’t have to fake it anymore. Confidence comes with experience and if you don’t have experience, a good mentor can make all the difference.

Do you have a favorite gadget or tool?

Hands down, my favorite tool is Brief It in CaseCatalyst. The developers at Stenograph deserve an award for this one! The dramatic improvement in my realtime feed is notable, which feeds my desire to want to continually improve my skill. I am being reminded of forgotten entries and adding entries into my dictionary on the fly. Because of Brief It, I’m increasing the value of my dictionary, with no extra work. I just love it!