Judges help raise funds for student’s tuition

Villarreal’s determination impresses court officials, who donate nearly $3K

As the first in her family to attend college, court reporting student Trysten Villarreal was determined to do whatever it takes to succeed. Her biggest obstacle was money.

Fortunately, that determination was noticed by a local judge, who got together with others at the Nueces County Courthouse and were able to raise $2,800 toward Villarreal’s education.

Villarreal hopes to start a career in the courtroom and before moving on to closed captioning.

Villarreal’s parents, who encouraged her to follow her dreams, had originally talked Villarreal into applying for scholarships to help pay her tuition. 

She received two at first, one from her church, Christian Church of Alice, and another from a program called JAG sponsored by Nueces County Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez, a Del Mar alumnus.

Needing more assistance, a member from her church then steered her toward Judge Missy Medary with the 347th District Court in Nueces County. Medary asked Villarreal to write a letter stating why she wanted to be a court reporter. Medary presented the letter to her fellow judges and they agreed that Villarreal had the drive and ambition to become a court reporter, so together they contributed $2,800 toward her tuition.

“It felt unreal even to this day,” Villarreal said of receiving the gift, adding that she was in shock. “I feel more confident knowing that I can focus more on my studies rather than worry about how I’m going to pay my tuition.”

Medary called court reporters the backbone of the courtroom. 

“Join the court reporting program,” Medary said of her advice to those considering the career. “It’s a two-year course at Del Mar and the starting salary is great. It’s a great career where you can make money, enjoy, and even travel.” 

Many judges push students to enter the field because of the benefits but also because they need them in the courtroom. 

Audio recording has been discussed as a replacement for court reporters but audio cannot do what a court reporter can do. Court reporters keep track of everything hap-pening in the courtroom and can repeat back anything needed right away.

Medary and other judges raised $2,800 for a Del Mar student in the court reporting program.

Medary said the Coastal Bend needs more female law mentors to help guide other women who want to enter the field. Having a mentor and guidance can help students transition from school to the actual on-site job. 

“Everyone had a beginning — just keep going down the path you want. It’s so important to focus on the journey and not the ending. Make connections, dream as big as possible, because the prizes at the end are going to be worth it,” Medary said. 

Suzette Weis, who teaches the middle courses for the court reporting program, helps by dictating a Q&A, teaching punctuation and vocabulary, training the students in speed, and of course jury charges. Court reporters need to type anywhere from 225-280 words per minute.

Weis also introduces students to the various fields that a court reporting degree can offer and shows them everything they will need to know when in a courtroom. Court reporting graduates can also do closed captioning for TV shows, movies, sports broadcasting and various news stations.

Villarreal hopes to start a career in the courtroom and before moving on to closed captioning. 

For more information on the court reporting program, contact Weis at sweis@delmar.edu. To help sponsor a student, reach out to the Del Mar College Foundation at 361-698-1317 and inform them you would like to contribute to students in the court reporting program. 

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