Celena Murillo, a re-entry student at Cerritos College, was recently awarded a $500 scholarship from the Long Beach Legal Secretaries Association.
Murillo, 26, of Cerritos, plans to become a court reporter. She originally became interested in this occupation when she heard about it during a career day at her high school. The career field appealed her because of the independent nature of the work, the pay, and the fact that it would challenge her.
Murillo worked full time for several years after graduating high school, but later realized that she was in a dead-end job and decided to enroll in college.
"I knew I needed more for myself," she said. "It was a huge financial impact, but I learned to adjust."
She enrolled in Cerritos College, and with help from college's Re-entry Resource Center, began collecting applications for scholarships and applying for every one she could.
"Even if I got just one out of ten, it would still be worth it," she reasoned. Still, she said, "I didn't think I was going to get it. I was so excited. I was in complete shock."
Murillo still has a ways to go, but she has big plans for the future. After gaining plenty of experience as a court reporter, Murillo would like to open her own court reporting agency. She also wants to do depositions because of the opportunity to travel as a part of the job.
But for now, there's still a lot of work to do. The test she must pass to become a court reporter in California requires she type 225 words per minute on a steno machine.
"It's pretty much eat, sleep, practice," she said, especially because gaining speed on the steno machine is the only way for her to advance in her sequence of classes. For a career as a court reporter, Murillo must also gain expertise in understanding both legal and medical jargon, as well as writing with perfect grammar, punctuation and spelling.
"I love having her in class. She's very witty and insightful," said one of her business professors, Phil Hernandez.
Not to mention ambitious and self-motivated, which leads one to believe that a $500 scholarship is just the start of great things to come.
For more information about Cerritos College's Court Reporting Program, please visitwww.cerritos.edu/courtreporting.