My time at the College of Court Reporting in Hobart, Indiana, ends at the Anoka County Courthouse in Anoka, Minnesota; seems strange. I came to Anoka County in March to start my first experience following an official reporter. One of my instructors, Janet Noel, set me up with a dear friend of hers who just happens to work there.

Honestly, it seems like I have waited forever for this opportunity. And now that it is here, I just want to turn my car around and drive back home to the comfort of my own home and announce that I have changed my mind, that I have decided a career in accounting would suit me better.

Then I start thinking.

I think about my wife who went back to school full-time with three kids running around the house and graduated magna cum laude; how the hell did she do that? I whined at her and cried at her and told her I was never going to graduate, and she just listened and lovingly told me the exact right things I needed to hear. She’s so smart. I love her.

I think about my mom. She decided to go back to school for court reporting when she was my age. I really admired her for that decision. She quit after an instructor, a really bad one, told her that she was too old and would probably never make it. She was crushed, which, in turn, crushed me. That school is no longer open. I love my mom. I would really like to meet that instructor someday.

I think about my dad. He died two years ago. While I was struggling with my 140/160 speeds, he was struggling through the last stages of his cancer. I would complain that I would never get it, and he would simply say, “It’ll come.” He was right. He always was. He would be so tickled right now. I really miss him.

I think about my kids who have all gone through college. For a time, I was in school at the same time my daughter was. She graduated before I did. I am graduating now, and she is enrolled in a master’s program. When things got tough for them, their mother and I would always say, “It’ll come.” And it always did. We were always right. My kids are so awesome.

I think about my grandkids and the looks on their faces when they asked me about my education. I am sure they were wondering why their grandfather was still in school. I remember reading from my notes to my grandson and struggling with a particular section. He was five at the time. He listened patiently and said, “That’s okay, Gunca. I have a hard time sometimes, too.” He was learning to read the same time I was. The grandkids call me “Gunca.” I love that. My grandkids are as awesome as their parents.

I think about my uncle who is a retired official reporter from the state of South Dakota. At a particularly tough moment in his education, he packed up his belongings, got into his car, drove 150 miles to his older brother’s house who was also a reporter and announced that it was too hard; he was quitting. His older brother made him a sandwich, shoved him back into his car, and told him to get his behind back to school. He’s retired now but still writing. I really admire him and aspire to be my own version of him one day.

I think about my instructors at CCR who never once doubted that I would be a court reporter. They never said to me that I was too old and would never make it. They encouraged and fostered me unceasingly and without anger or aggravation, and at times they really had a perfect right to. I really appreciated that. I am so glad the College of Court Reporting is my alma mater.

I think about my mentor, Vikki, who blindly and trustingly came to a strange man’s house. He claimed to be a court reporting student. She patiently waited while he finished taking his mentored exams; such a huge thing to ask and for nothing more than a thank you in return. She answered my questions and handled my neuroses with patience and kindness. She answered every question, and she always sympathized by telling me her horror stories. Somehow those stories always made me feel better. She understood that her time spent with a newbie like me would help perpetuate a profession that was good to her. I know that I have made a new lifelong friend and colleague.

By the time I am done thinking all these things, I have arrived at the courthouse.

The reporter meets me in the hallway outside her office. “Hi. I’m Sharon,” she says, smiling and extending her hand. I know that she has a million things to do and prepare, but she takes her time with me and welcomes me and makes me feel like I absolutely belong there.

I meet the judge. She is so nice and real and down to earth. She jokes that I will be responsible for any readback that should occur during the day. The thought of it creates a panic, and I suffer a mini stroke. I really appreciated the levity at that moment, and I appreciated her allowing me into her courtroom.

Here come the cases. We are seeing a variety of things today: first appearances, parole violations, etc. One after another, the people come. Everyone but the defendants and I seem to really know what’s going on. Sharon was so great about explaining things, and I really started to believe that I could do this for a living. She gave such good advice and answered my questions before I asked them. It was like she was reading my mind. I have officially added her to my list of people that I admire and helped to keep me motivated.

When the day is done, I am vibrating with excitement. And other than my paper coming out of its tray and pooling around my feet, I haven't done or said anything too embarrassing.

I call home immediately. I have to decompress. I blather to my wife incoherently and in fragmented sentences everything that happened. My first experience was finished and I survived it. Not only did I survive it, but I really enjoyed it. The day went by so fast, and my mentor was so nice.

I kept going to the courthouse week after week and eventually got to sit in on a criminal trial from jury selection to the verdict. It was so exciting.

And now here I am. I did it. Much to the chagrin of that incessant little voice in my head that kept telling me I couldn’t, I am completely finished with my internship, and, consequently, my education. They were all right. All those people that knew I could do it even when I didn’t. It did come. I will carry that with me to every job I take and put it in every transcript I write. I am thankful and forever in their debt.

Congrats to Jay, who is now a CCR graduate!!!