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I Can Do This: From the Bottom to the Top

This is Charlene's CPA Exam Journey...

When I was young, no one believed I would earn a college degree, much less a CPA certification!

I'll never forget the look on my father's face when I told him I was quitting my job to enroll at University and that I planned to study Accounting. During a long, uncomfortable pause, I could see that he was deep in thought, planning his words carefully. Like any daughter, making my dad proud was part of everything I had done or thought of doing. I worried about what was coming though honestly, I already knew. Still, I hoped for something different, I wanted him to be proud, not nervous. In his ever-so-gentle way, my dad reminded me how poorly I had done in high school, how as a little girl I was always leaving my sleeve in the soup bowl; that I was incapable of focusing. He reminded me of the difficulty of accounting, that it required a lot more math than I had ever studied before. He was worried (or convinced, as it were) that I would fail and that the failure would devastate me. At that time, my children were 3 and 5 and he wanted me to focus on them not on a career.

What my dad had failed to understand was that I was not the same person that I was in high school. My failure in high school was never because I lacked the ability; it was a result of the expectations that were put upon me. As a young girl if you are told that because you have blonde hair and blue eyes you must be lacking brain capacity, you believe it and you work to fulfill those expectations. In that sense I succeeded, graduating 113th out of 115 students in my class. Going to college after graduation was not a subject anywhere in the universe of my family. It was expected I would get married, have children and be taken care of (for the most part) by someone else, working in clerical positions so I could socialize and offer some financial contribution. And that was indeed the path I started to take as a young woman fresh out of school with no direction, no path and no confidence.

And then I met a woman who changed my life forever. I was working as an Accounts Payable clerk; my supervisor would often praise my aptitude on accounting concepts and often suggested I consider getting a degree in Accounting. Out of curiosity I took a summer class, Accounting 101, and I got an A. The first A I ever earned in all of my years up to that point. It was like a drug. I wanted more. After completing the class I signed up at the local Community College full time and took night classes. Again, I was doing well and I loved it; I loved how much better I was feeling about myself. It occurred to me that if I continued for just another 2 short years above what I was already planning for an Associate, I would have my Bachelors degree and with that I could accomplish anything!  

And that's when I had the conversation with my dad. It was late winter and I had made the decision to transfer to the University that coming fall. I can not express the level of concern my father had, all driven by love but still so sure that I would fail, that I simply did not have the mental capacity to accomplish such a lofty goal. I remember his exact words "going to a University is not the same thing as going to a Community College; I don't think you fully understand what you're getting yourself into." But still, I was not deterred, I was confident I knew what I could accomplish even if my own family did not.

Almost 6 years later when I graduated Summa Cum Laude and with my MBA (while still focusing on my children) my dad hugged me, he told me how proud he was and that he knew forevermore that there would be nothing I couldn't accomplish if I wanted it. It was the most amazing moment of my life. And although he is no longer here to see me accomplish this lofty goal, I know that he is with me every step of the way!

Charlene's Posts:

  1. I Can Do This: From the Bottom to the Top
  2. Adjusting: All the Best Made Plans
  3. FASB for Lunch: Time Well Spent
  4. Signs: No More Self-Doubt
  5. Government Accounting: 5 Hour Energy and Lambers
  6. Week #2 - The Missing Socks
  7. Keep Calm & Study On
  8. Facing the "FAR" Today
  9. The day after my battle with FAR
  10. Passing FAR
  11. Slow Start with Audit
  12. The CPA M&M Teddy Bear
  13. Going for Gold :-)
  14. A CPA's Oscar Moment

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Tags: Bloggers, CPA Exam Journey, Charlene, Introductions


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Comment by CPA Exam Club on August 1, 2014 at 8:00pm

Congratulations Charlene, what a wonderful accomplishment!!!

Comment by Niusha H on March 24, 2013 at 8:53am

Thank you for sharing your story!  My kids are 4 and 6 now and I feel like there's gotta be a way to get through these CPA exams and accomplishing this goal would really be a boost in my life on so many levels.

Your story also reminds me of the education discussion on whether grades or narratives are the best way to help individuals propel and succeed.  It sounds like they boosted your passion in college, but certainly put a different spin on your thoughts and your Dad's of your abilities while in high school.  I'm so glad you crossed paths with a supervisor who was an inspirational mentor -- sounds like she pointed you in a direction to change your life and that of your family's.  You have made some BIG, positive accomplishments!  And, I bet your Dad is so proud!

Comment by CPA Exam Club on March 18, 2013 at 9:32am

Love your story on so many levels Charlene!!! So great, proves to show you - you can do anything you set your mind to!!!  

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