Program hopes to capitalize on "stenography" buzz

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Posted: Monday, March 30, 2015 --- 10:29 p.m.

Nigel Hayes could be considered a hero on the basketball court, but now he's a hero off the court to an entire field of professionals: stenographers.

Hayes has made headlines so far throughout the Badgers' run in the NCAA tournament, partly because of his interest in the people who transcribe the team's press conferences. In a "stump the stenographer" type game, he's taken a few moments in several press conferences to say unusually long or complicated words to make the stenographer's job more interesting, as he put it.

The Badger buzz could be just what the stenography program at Madison College needed.

"I had no idea when I woke up to see if the Badgers had won, that all of a sudden 'stenography' was the big word," said Lee Carey, a stenography instructor at Madison College.

The program recently received a grant of more than $500,000 to expand online courses, allowing students across the country to enroll. Carey said the stenography hype from the Badgers has given them an incredible public relations burst.

"It was like something was dropped in my lap and it was wonderful," she said.

It's been fun and games for the team, but Carey hopes it will lead to more interest in people pursuing the field, which is expected to produce more than 5,000 jobs in the next five years.

"We have 100 percent job placement, we've had that for years for our program, so it's really just about getting people interested and wanting to do this," she said.

She said it boils down to informing people about what the job entails, and how it can be both flexible and lucrative. Some stenographers work from home to transcribe events or conferences, for example. Salaries range from the mid $30,000 range to more than $100,000, Carey said.

Haley Bortz is in her fourth semester of the program. Her mom was a stenographer as a young adult, and Bortz discovered her interest in court reporting while serving jury duty.

"I thought it would be great to be learning something new every single day and I really like the idea of mastering the machine and having a talent no one can take away from you," Bortz said.

She said she was excited to see the Badgers notice the stenographers.

"Usually the stenographer is in the background, so the fact that they brought her to the forefront I just found really funny and it made me really happy," she said.

For Carey, this unexpected publicity from Hayes, and other teammates, has potential to achieve far more than an advertisement.

"He means it, they're really interested in it... and I don't think I've seen many ads that portray that or that comes across. So in that way, the sincerity of it all is priceless," she said.

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