Essay Winners

President's Message
By Dana Webb, TCRA President

When the waters are calm and the sea is still, it makes for smooth sailing. It is only when the cry from the captain is heard, “ALL HANDS ON DECK”, that from the belly of the ship emerge the sailors with their swift and decisive action.   It is with vigor and zeal that the sailors man their places in preparation for the rough waters that lie ahead.

Being asked to serve our association is an honor and a responsibility that I take very seriously. However, as a mother of two very active sons, a wife and a full-time court reporter, I have to admit that I was glad to know that my year with TCRA would be smooth sailing. After all, we are not dealing with legislation, we are not dealing with certification, the waters are smooth and the sea is still - - at least I thought.

Shortly into this new leadership position I received a call that the Administrative Office of The Courts (AOC) is having a hard time filling the official positions with court reporters, and that the situation is so bad that they have gotten to the point of having to consider alternative means by which to capture the record. Now we can all claim that this would not be the case if those positions paid more. Unfortunately, and upon further scrutiny, this complaint of a shortage is being heard and felt across the country. We are hearing more and more about this shortage of court reporters through, not only our National Court Reporting Association, but through national news reports, articles, videos, lawyers, federal and state judges, all supported by statistical information being circulated that the court reporting shortage will soon be at critical levels across the country.

So we may ask, does this mean we will finally be able to adjust our rates? I mean, this does fall in the category of supply and demand, right!

Hold your horses. Emerging from the wings are digital, audio and other alternatives, just waiting to step up and come to the rescue. Is this a risk we are willing to take?

This Newsletter is filled with information that explains a strategy, a plan and course of action your TCRA board believes to be the battle plan.  The call has been made “ALL HANDS ON DECK”. May we, the court reporters, emerge with swift and decisive action and pull together for the benefit of the whole.

While I may not have that year of smooth and calm waters, and we may be fighting hard to hold down the hatch, I want to close by once again thanking each of you for bestowing on me the honor and privilege to serve TCRA, a responsibility I do take seriously.

Dana Webb, President TCRA

P.S. (Please share this plan with a non-member and encourage them to join the battle by joining TCRA.)

2014 Student Scholarship Essay Winner

Deborah King, Essay Winner

Each year TCRA sponsors a scholarship for court reporting students.  Students may participate in the program by writing a short essay.  The student scholarships are awarded to deserving students each year at our Annual Convention.  This year we had some great essays submitted from several students.  It is so inspiring to read their essays and to hear the passion and enthusiasm in their words.  

Deborah King is our 2014 recipient of the Tiffany Brosemer Student Scholarship Essay Contest.  Congratulations, Deborah!

Read Deborah's essay below.  

"Why I Want to Be a Court Reporter"

Why in the world do I want to be a court reporter?!  Trust me, this is a question that I have asked myself many, many times in the years since I began school.  There have been times over the last four years when I have been so close to quitting, just throwing in the towel, because I have not progressed with my speed as quickly as I had hoped.  Like countless other court reporting students, I have had times of frustration, exasperation, and oh so many tears.  

It is during these times that I sit down and have a heart-to-heart with myself about why I would want to continue on a path that is so very difficult, so skill-oriented, that very few actually see the end.  Ultimately, it comes down to passion.  I have developed a passion for steno over the past four years.  Albeit a love/hate relationship, it is a strong relationship nonetheless.  I know this because, at those times where I become frustrated and force myself to take a break from the machine, I absolutely cannot stop thinking about it.  When I am reading or watching TV, I find myself constantly thinking about how I would write that word in steno or telling myself to make a mental note of a difficult word for future reference.

When I am on my machine practicing or testing, I feel at home.  My skill is not nearly at the level I would like it to be, but the process of developing that skill and seeing the progress is addictive to me.  The feeling of having passed a test is like no other.  My family and friends are happy for me, but they cannot truly understand my elation of passing one test when I have failed hundreds before.

This passion for steno is what keeps me going down this path - that and the knowledge that, once I attain my speed and pass my certification, I will be part of an elite group of court reporters, captioners, and CART providers who have all traveled down that same path and made it.  Over the last four years, I have realized that ultimately it does not matter how long it takes you to get down the path, as long as you do not get off.  The reward at the end will be worth the work it took to get there.

2013 Student Scholarship Essay Winner

Melina Lyons, Essay Winner

"Why I Want to Be a Captioner"

I'm very interested in the world of captioning. I've always wanted to learn sign language since I was a young adult. I bought sign language learning tapes and a sign language reference book. I started to practice with one of my sisters. I also would stand in front of a mirror to see myself trying to sign. Sometimes I would imagine not being able to talk or hear, then using my hands to communicate. Sadly things were too complicated with home-life so I had to put sign language aside. A few years passed and I would look at my sign language book wishing I had pursued this way of communicating. I remember working as a medical transcriptionist and a younger sister told me about court reporting. She said she was going to school to learn to become a court reporter. She passed her classes and accepted a job as court reporter. She would take me to lunch and talk about her job. I listened and tried to imagine what her job was like. She would describe how being in court was like or working a deposition. At that time, it didn't seem like something I wanted to do. She told me I should look into being a court reporter because there are different options. Well, I ended up being laid off from my hospital job and decided to enroll in Theory I at Southwest. Then shortly, I became pregnant with my son and had to discontinue school when he was born. I figured I'd put things on hold and devote time raising my son. My sister again reminded me of court reporting and pushed me to get back into this field of study. I couldn't afford tuition so I tried teaching myself.  I signed up to take the certification test only to fail it twice each year. I was ready to give up. My co-workers and sister pushed me to keep trying. So I decided to research this career more and found out that I could be a court reporter working with closed captioning. I thought to myself "finally, a chance to be exposed to that world of language." I knew this would be my chance to pursue what I had started years ago. Well, I enrolled at Southwest at the beginning of 2013 waiting to see how this challenge will end.

"Why I Want to Become a Captioner"

Essay By:  Jeffrey Little

2009 Scholarship Winner

There was a day when my mom, who is hearing impaired and has to watch television with the closed captioning on, came to me with an article about closed captioning as a career. She mentioned something about learning court reporting, and using those skills to move into captioning.  I initially dismissed the idea, but as I continued to research careers, I decided to humor her and check it out.  To my surprise, the career sounded too good to be true, and everything I was looking for.

Another reason I became so interested in the field is that I was in a car accident two years ago, and severed my brachial artery.  This injury rendered me unable to move my thuimb.  This was very frustrating, but after six months of no motion in my thumb, it began to move.  A few weeks after that, I had full use of it again.  Having played guitar for many years, I greatly enjoy using my fingers.  The idea thatI could find a good, stable career using my fingers appealed to me greatly.

I researched court reporting and closed captioning, which ultimately led me to enroll in the College of Court Reporting in Hobart, Indiana. My experience there has been nothing short of phenomenal, and I can feel that this is the career path that I'm meant to take.

2012 Student Scholarship Essay Winner


Katiellen Barnes, Essay Winner

(pictured with her mom at convention)

Each year TCRA sponsors a scholarship for court reporting students.  Students may participate in the program by writing a short essay.  The student scholarships are awarded to deserving students each year at our Annual Convention.  This year we had some great essays submitted from several students.  It is so inspiring to read their essays and to hear the passion and enthusiasm in their words.  

Katiellen Barnes, a student at Southwest Tennessee Community College, is our 2012 recipient of the Tiffany Brosemer Student Scholarship Essay Contest.  Congratulations, Katiellen!

Two other court reporting students, Serena White and Brittani Nash, also submitted great essays.  Thanks to all students for participating.  

Read Serena's essay.  

Read Brittani's essay.

Read Katiellen's essay below.  

"Why I Want to Be a Court Reporter"

Throughout childhood, we are often asked what we want to be when we grow up. When young, there is little pressure on the answer, and we can basically choose any path we desire with no constraints or worries about our choice.  Often, when younger, the response is generated from simplistic thinking based on what the child enjoys doing or what he or she thinks is cool, such as being a baseball player or superhero.  However, as age increases so do the pressures of choosing an occupation.  The question is no longer exciting and limitless but more stressful and restraining, which in turn can hinder a person's ability to recognize his/her attributes and all the possibilities for the future.

The reason I want to be a court reporter is a result of the exact scenario about ALMOST happening to me.  To begin with, I am the youngest of three children so that alone was enough pressure in itself.  In addition, both of my siblings attended a four-year university.  My sister had an academic scholarship and wanted to attend Law School after undergrad, and my brother had an athletic scholarship to play baseball and was pursuing an education degree.  So, I applied to four-year schools thinking this was the only path to pursue.  However, my entire senior year I felt uneasy about the decision.  I could not make a decision on where to go, let alone what I wanted to do.

Luckily, my plans were altered before I pursued what would have been the wrong path.  I worked at the Hardeman County Courthouse in the Register's Office part time my senior year.  After I received several compliments on my typing skills, my mom suggested I look into court reporting.  Once I researched the topic, the qualifications and job tasks aligned perfectly with my skill set as well as what I enjoyed.  I applied to and visited schools which offered a court reporting program and eventually decided on Southwest Community College.  I can honestly say I have not regretted my choice or wondered if I should have pursued any other occupation.  The program is challenging and takes a lot of hard work, but when you love what you are doing and focus on what you like and are good at, it makes the pursuit worthwhile.  So, the reason I want to be a court reporter is because I enjoy what it entails, it maximizes and highlights my abilities, and fits my personality.  In conclusion, the key is to keep it simple and dream like a child and pursue your desires, and for me, I am well on my way to my dream of being a court reporter.