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Meet the Recipients

Planet Depos is delighted to announce the winners of three $1,000 cash scholarships offered during NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week 2018.  We received 47 applications, and 3 winners were selected based on answers to the following questions:

 

  1. What motivates you to persevere when faced with a challenge or disappointment?
  2. What do you feel is your greatest strength? Your greatest weakness?
  3. Where do you see yourself professionally five years from now?

And the winners are:

Kolby Garrison

From:
Greensboro, NC

School:
College of Court Reporting
Hobart, IN

Eun "Grace" Kwahk

From:
Buena Park, CA

School:
South Coast College
Orange, CA

Nephtali Diaz

From:
Pasadena, TX

School:
Alvin Community College
Alvin, TX

Applicants were required to be in high-speed classes or have graduated within the past year.  Planet Depos invited three independent court reporters to judge the entries. The judges were provided no information related to the identity or location of the applicant.  We wish to thank our judges for the time and effort they gave to selecting our three winners:

Lisa Knight, FAPR, RDR, CRR, of Littleton, CO

Michael Hensley, RPR, of Dublin, CA

Nancy Mahoney, RPR, of Cranford, NJ

Thank you to all of the applicants who submitted entries.  You are the new generation of court reporters, and we’re excited to welcome you to our beloved profession!

Our Recipients

Kolby Garrison

Kolby Garrison

Greensboro, NC

College of Court Reporting
Hobart, IN

What Motivates You To Persevere When Faced With A Challenge Or Disappointment?
Living life differently from what society considers to be “normal” is ordinary for me. I have been totally blind since birth and have been blessed with parents who raised me to be as independent as possible. Software on my computer that speaks the text on the screen; a device that displays the text on the screen in Braille; and materials in electronic format enable me to pursue becoming a stenographer. Whenever I am faced with a challenge or disappointment, I think back on the countless times in which something unexpected occurred in my life. I rely on my faith and attitude of perseverance that my parents instilled in me. I pray; pick myself up; dust myself off; and continue on. Court reporting school is certainly difficult, but I am determined to graduate and to become a stenographer. I chose stenography due to its variety of employment areas, because the unemployment rate among people who are blind is extremely high.
What Do You Feel Is Your Greatest Strength? Your Greatest Weakness?
I feel that my greatest strength is the fact that I view my blindness as a characteristic rather than a limitation. My disability certainly impacts how I live my life, but blindness does not define who I am as a person. My greatest weakness is that I am a perfectionist. I want to do everything right, and court reporting school is teaching me to rethink how I approach this mindset. I am getting better at accepting mistakes and learning from my mistakes. Dropping words while writing is my weakness where court reporting school is concerned.
Where Do You See Yourself Professionally Five Years From Now?
Five years from now, I would like to work as an official reporter in court or to be a captioner or CART provider. I know what it is like to experience not having access to things that society takes for granted. I would love to provide the access that enables someone who cannot hear to fully participate and be included in whatever it might be that they wish to participate in. Providing CART appeals to me, because I love learning. Working as an official court reporter appeals to me, because I want to play an integral part in the justice system.
I thank you for your time and consideration of my application.

What her instructors have to say:

Kolby demonstrates great tenacity in everything she sets out to accomplish.  She has a goal, and she will not be deterred from the goal, no matter the obstacle.

Eileen Beltz

Kolby always displays such a positive attitude, even when faced with a difficult challenge. This not only makes her an excellent student but a joy to teach.

Angie Ryder

The girl has no quit. She will find a way to persevere, aware that her steps might be slow, but she continues to take each one. She’s been an inspiration to me as I greatly admire her resolve. I’m richer for having had her as a student.

Alice Skoro

Eun

Eun "Grace" Kwahk

Buena Park, CA

South Coast College
Orange, CA

What Motivates You To Persevere When Faced With A Challenge Or Disappointment?
As both many working reporters and court reporting students are aware, the road to becoming a licensed shorthand reporter is one that is filled with challenges, disappointments, and failures. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with the crushing feeling of defeat from not passing yet another speed test, I remember my parents who are currently living in South Korea. Before moving back to California, I worked as an ESL teacher in Korea to save money so I could enroll in court reporting school. I forgot how expensive living in California could be, and it was not long before I needed financial support from my family. I believe this is the main reason I was able to fight through the endless doubts and fears I had that I had possibly chosen the wrong career. My family has been my support system during my years in school, and they are the reason I continue to fight to finish school and become a CSR.
What Do You Feel Is Your Greatest Strength? Your Greatest Weakness?
My greatest strength is my determination and drive. There have been countless times when I have wanted to give up and walk away, but I have not. I realized that I am able to accomplish my goals when I set little milestones for myself. I went to school an hour and a half early to practice before our first class. After classes were over, I stayed an extra two to three hours to practice more and really understand our school’s theory. On the weekends when we did not have any classes, I went to school every other Saturday for two to three hours and practiced some more. When I was just beginning to take speed tests, I put Post-it Notes with the tests I needed to pass in order to advance to the next speed on my bathroom door. Each time I passed a test, I ripped off a Post-it Notes. Having visual goals encouraged me to try even harder. It was inspiring to be able to see my progress; and before I knew it, a year had passed, and I was a 170 goal speed student. When it was time for my parents to come visit me in June of 2017, I wanted to be a 180 goal speed student. Not only was I able to get my 180 card, but I was also able to get my 190 card as well. This determination and drive also helped me pass my 200 speed test and get into qualifiers within the amount of time I had given myself. The ultimate end aim I set was to pass a qualifier before the deadline to the March CSR. I used a combination of audio, YouTube, and our school’s theory book to practice, and I passed my third qualifier and I am now going to the March CSR.

My greatest weakness is my anxiety. I have a horrible tendency to overthink things and get inside my head. I am extremely hard on myself when I do not pass tests. I am my own worst critic. There have been several times when I have lost focus and failed a test because I put too much emphasis on a single mistake. Eventually, all the pressure and stress from school resulted in anxiety and panic attacks. While this was difficult, I feel like this has prepared me for pressures this field has. I am now better able to control the doubts I have in myself and my ability as a writer. I have practiced ways, such as deep breathing and meditation, to help push through and preserve my writing.

Where Do You See Yourself Professionally Five Years From Now?
I would love to be an international shorthand reporter in five years. After passing the CSR, I hope to work in California for a couple of years and build good-working relationships with other reporters and agencies. Since my entire family is living in South Korea, I hope to eventually work there and build even more working relationships. My aim is to be a reporter who can work in both California and Asia.

What her instructors have to say:

How exciting that Eun is in the top three! She is an awesome student and is currently enrolled at South Coast College. She has passed the qualifier at the school and will be taking the CSR in March. Eun (or “Grace” as we call her) has done exceptionally well in court reporting school. She’s an extremely hard worker. She’s motivated and dedicated, to say the least. She always goes above and beyond. She was recently selected by one of our alumni to do the Academy Awards. There’s a court reporter doing the actual captioning, but Eun will be assisting by taking notes. It’s quite an honor to be chosen. She may be doing the captioning next year??? It’s possible.

Becky Remsen

Nephtali Diaz

Nephtali Diaz

Pasadena, TX

Alvin Community College
Alvin, TX

What Motivates You To Persevere When Faced With A Challenge Or Disappointment?
My closest friends know that I am a highly motivated and competitive person who strives to be the best in everything I do. First off, let it be known that I was a miracle baby; so the fact that God allowed me to live and experience the wonderful life I have and be the person I have become in my 35 years of existence makes me truly blessed beyond any scope of the imagination!

Once I find something that I love, I don’t give up until I succeed. I have always been a competitive person, but wasn’t born talented, of course. More specifically, the game of chess and playing the trumpet, are what I currently excel most at now. My love and strong passion to excel for both is what ultimately made me strive to become the professional chess and trumpet player I am today. When I first learned both, however, I was horrible! I never thought I’d become skilled at both to the extent that I am now paid for both, but I simply put in the hours and hours of effort because I made my mind up that I was going to become a strong chess player and trumpeter. However, I simply did not let the seemingly endless days of mediocrity rule me, even as a young lad.

Of course, it didn’t happen overnight. I practiced a myriad of hours at the trumpet in my teenage years which eventually paid off since I was able to chosen as the lead trumpeter for the Area Jazz Band my senior year in high school. My will to never give up also paid off the same in chess, and, because of my hard work and continued perseverance, I launched my website which boasts over a million views (www.BughouseMaster.com), and have taught literally thousands of students ranging from the tender age of 4 all the way up to the senior age of 86. Because of the innumerable hours I devoted in both chess and trumpeting, I was able to accomplish a number of achievements. Some of these include: co-author of a book, have given several local and national chess lectures, placed 1st in many national chess events, winning an international instrumental competition; and, have taught at various Houston-area schools as well as performed with an array of groups in my trumpeting specialty fields: classical and jazz.

My passion to persevere, however, doesn’t just stop with chess and trumpeting. It was because of my wife of 5 years that I stumbled upon this hidden gem we call court reporting, and I owe my latest perseverance to her, as a result. This career, therefore, was introduced to me at a much later time in life than I would have preferred. When I found out about it, however, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was something that God definitely led to me. Having possessed most of the necessary and desired skills crucial to this profession and discovering that it’s quite a lucrative profession was just an added bonus but made me completely sold to court reporting, not to mention that I’ve always been a super-speedy typist on a regular QWERTY keyboard. Therefore, court reporting became the next thing I wanted to excel in. Even though speed building for me hasn’t been a complete walk in the park as I got stuck longer than desired at the 120’s speed, specifically, Mark Kislingbury is my biggest motivation to persevere and become the best court reporter I can be whenever I hit a speed obstacle. As we both share being competitive chess players, I can totally relate to him; and therefore, keep pushing until I become a Certified Shorthand Reporter, hopefully very soon. Additionally, the fact that he is a better chess player than me also motivates me to want to become an even stronger chess player and is who I can also look up to when I have a rough tournament. However, without a doubt, his incomparable steno achievements and being the fastest court reporter in the world definitely gives me the most perseverance to emulate!

What Do You Feel Is Your Greatest Strength? Your Greatest Weakness?
I feel my greatest strength is being a highly dedicated person. The word “quit” is simply not in my vocabulary. If it was I would have never become a professional trumpet player and professional chess coach that I am today. If I was not a fighter and did not have the will to master my craft, I would have immediately quit band in the 6th grade after consistently being last chair out of 23 other beginning trumpeters for virtually the entire year. Had I not persevered past that dreadful beginning band year I would have never been asked years later to play at dozens of banquets, social events, weddings, church services, anniversaries, festivals, private parties, celebrations and even funerals, the latest, as a matter of fact, performing TAPS at the funeral for the former Chief of Pasadena Police Department, in Pasadena, Texas just last month.

Likewise, I would have given up on the complex game of chess after getting defeated by my dad over and over again at the age of 9. However, just like playing the trumpet, I aspired to become good and not settle for mediocrity. I wanted to excel; and so I kept playing the game and read as many chess books as I could get my hands on and begged my parents to take me to the Houston Chess Club two to three times a week, even if it was a 45 minute drive across town. However, similar to playing the trumpet, my persistence and perseverance in chess eventually paid off several years later.
One day in 2003, I was asked by a well known chess coach in the Houston area if I would be interested in also teaching chess at various schools in Houston. Since that day I have been blessed to be the mentor and coach at various public and private schools as well as private lessons in and around the greater Houston area for literally thousands of students ranging from 4 years old, all the way to 86 years old. I have also won and placed high in dozens of local and state chess tournaments, all the way up to the national level and continue to be a competitive tournament chess player today. Once I set my mind to something, there is simply no turning back!

My greatest weakness would have to be me being a perfectionist. Because of my super-competitive nature and will to succeed, unfortunately sometimes I overdo it by stressing over minor details. For example, there have been many occasions where I have performed an immaculate trumpet solo as evidenced by the thunderous applause and many compliments I receive. However, because of my striving to always be perfect, I tend to be super picky towards myself and therefore not give myself the proper credit I deserve. I am not saying that I wouldn’t be happy with my performance, but I’d just be hypercritical towards myself. Excelling in chess tournaments is another example. I could win 1st place going 5-0 in a given tournament, but I would still be overly critical on myself for not winning one of those five games in the fastest possible way, or simply missing a cleaner, more convincing, tactical win.

Where Do You See Yourself Professionally Five Years From Now?
Professionally five years from now, I see myself settled down working in one of the many courts in Downtown, Houston, as an Official Court Reporter and being both blessed and delighted with my decision to take on and make court reporting my full-time profession and reaping the benefits of my hard work and diligence in court reporting school. I would continue to be open-minded and seek to learn more efficient ways of doing my job as a court reporter and at that point in time, be more advanced in all facets of court reporting. Having a strong desire to continue to network and learn from other colleagues and professionals, I’d look forward to continuing to attend the annual state and national conferences like I have already been attending as a student, including the 2017 NCRA Convention in Las Vegas, as well as the 2016 and 2017 Texas Court Reporters Association (TCRA) conferences in which I have already amassed invaluable knowledge which I look forward to applying in the future. Five years from now I would be fairly comfortable and would be looking forward to what each new steno day brings to me and continue to do my absolute best in my every day job as an official court reporter and keeper of the record.

Even though I would be very busy in my court reporting career, in my free time I would definitely make it a point to volunteer my time and mentor court reporting students, stressing the importance and absolute requirement of diligent practice in order to also become a future Certified Shorthand Reporter. I would impart to them my past experiences in my own personal struggles with chess and trumpeting, with the optimistic anticipation of them becoming more motivated to succeed and to strive even harder and to never quit.

For now, as a dedicated student in my 180’s, it has been both a struggle yet fulfilling process of speed building and globaling new entries in my Eclipse CAT Software dictionary on a daily basis, because I know it will only benefit me years down the line at a future job. It would then be at that point in time, five years from now, where I would finally see the real fruits of my steno labor!

What his instructors have to say:

We have found Neph to be an extremely dedicated student and committed in his pursuit to the profession.

Micki Kincaide

Neph has been very studious in my class. He is a trumpet musician. This type of discipline is helping him very much in court reporting school. He is disciplined and has progressed quite well. He will be an asset to our court reporting profession.

Jim Preston

Thanks!

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