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Huaka'i Lo'ihi or Long Journey
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Huaka'i Lo'ihi or Long Journey
by Susan Leong, CET

Training for a marathon is in many ways like training to become a Certified Electronic Transcriber. It takes hard work and perseverance. I have had the memorable experience of running in five marathons; participating in a mini-triathlon; doing a 100 mile bike ride all in the beautiful State of Hawaii. After 35 years of living in Hawaii, I ventured to the mainland where I began my training in the world of court and freelance reporting. This is the story of my journey to the land of electronic transcription.



I was born in Dayton, Ohio but raised in Honolulu, Hawaii where I lived for 35 years. Being a female born into the Chinese culture presents interesting challenges, but there is an upside to being a middle child. An article written by Lynne Griffin, R.N., M.Ed. and published in Psychology Today states: "Although middles are neglected by both parents and teachers, they actually benefit from this in the long run. They become more independent, think outside the box, feel less pressure to conform, and are more empathetic."1 I believe it was my fortune of being a middle child that helped me achieve some great accomplishments in my life.

I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in General Home Economics with an emphasis in Human Development in 1974 from the University of Hawaii. After graduation, I was able to secure a position at the beautiful Hilton Hawaiian Village where I spent 12 years, starting out as a clerk and leaving as the Director of Personnel which is referred to as Human Resources in present day nomenclature.

I have always had an interest in law, but law school was financially out of reach. So I did the next best thing. Around 1985, I applied for and was accepted into the paralegal program at Kapiolani Community College. Being a single parent of three young children and holding down a full-time job was daunting at times. When the opportunity to start anew presented itself, I lunged at it. Although that decision forced me to leave my paralegal studies (I was one course shy of earning my Associates Degree), the benefit of leaving Hawaii and the paralegal program outweighed any loss that resulted in the decision to start a new life.


With three young children in tow and with as many belongings that could be packed in two weeks, the kids and I headed for Big Rapids, Michigan where I attended Ferris State University. What a culture shock! The ground never froze in Hawaii. Three years later, I earned an Associate's Degree in court and freelance reporting. At the recommendation of a classmate, I did my court reporting internship at the Maricopa County Superior Court in the State of Arizona. Having been exposed somewhat to the lifestyle and cost of living in Arizona through my internship and after graduation from Ferris, the children and I moved to Arizona in 1991.

I applied for a position at the Maricopa County Superior Court, but I was not hired. Five and a half years later, I applied again at Maricopa County Superior Court and secured a position as a courtroom clerk. During my four years as a clerk, my learning continued, and I became very familiar with courtroom procedures.

Arizona is a beautiful state, but it does have its idiosyncrasies. Some of the unusual features include Valley fever, which I contracted along with pneumonia and asthma, which kept me down for some time and drained my savings. When I was strong enough, I took jobs through temp agencies and eventually landed a full-time position at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona. I earned certification as a nursing assistant and was exposed to the medical field for five years.


Four years later, an opportunity arose which was irresistible and that was a chance to become a judicial assistant. Fifteen years later, I am still a judicial assistant and have worked for the same judge since that time. However, my interest in court reporting never waned, and the world of electronic transcription opened its door for me. I stepped in and absolutely love electronic transcription. I am now a CET and transcribe on a part-time basis. After retirement from the court system, my goal is to do transcription on a full-time or almost a full-time basis.

My years at the hospital and in the court system are a tremendous benefit to my life as a transcriptionist, especially when the transcriptionist is not a witness to what is going on in the courtroom. I hope that my story will serve as an inspiration to anyone who is struggling to keep the faith and endure in order to achieve a professional goal or any other goal in life.



Susan M. Leong, CET is a Judicial Assistant at the Maricopa County Superior Court, Arizona. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Hawaii and an Associate's Degree from Ferris State University in court and freelance reporting. She also holds certifications as a nursing assistant and a legal document preparer in the state of Arizona. Ms. Leong is an AAERT Certified Electronic Transcriptionist, current member of AAERT. and resides in Phoenix, Arizona.



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