It’s Done! My Journey to PASS the CPA Exam

Lauria is a guest NINJA CPA blogger sharing her journey to pass the CPA Exam.

I am a CPA.

It is so surreal. I don’t look different. I don’t feel different. However, the truth of the matter is … I AM different. So completely different.

I had an empty nest at 41 and went back to finish my education. I became eligible to sit for the exam in July 2009. They say, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans!” Well, I don’t know if that is true but I can tell you this … that is when all hell broke loose in my life.

I could write a book on all the things that came against me since my first exam attempt in July 2009. For the sake of server space on A71, I will just give you some highlights.

I had a major lung surgery (two year recovery) and a two-hour per day commute to a job at a CPA firm. I easily worked 60 hours or more each week and had to climb grain silos in excruciating pain.

Later I moved over to the University of Illinois (Go Illini!) and dumped the commute but found another super busy job. I attempted and failed many exams but managed to pass BEC with a 75!

In late 2009 my mom was diagnosed with breast and lung cancer and the trips to Georgia to help care for her and do my part began. She passed away 4 days after I took – and failed – REG in July 2012. This is the only time I seriously considered giving up as I was exhausted emotionally and physically.

Soon after, I was then diagnosed with low iron anemia which required “quick iron” to be pumped directly into my veins via IV. The side effects were truly awful and I also suffered a case of severe shingles. With my iron levels increased, I began to pass exams … AUD 84, REG 81, lost and retook BEC 84. Unfortunately, another surgery was needed and set for Fall 2013.

After all of this, my father was diagnosed with Stage IV renal failure in June 2013 and they gave him 90 days to live. At this point, I had only FAR left to conquer and it came increasingly important to pass and celebrate with him.

Only those who have failed before can begin to comprehend the extreme depth of my devastation when the score came back in August at FAR 73. At dinner that night, I was trying so hard not to show my disappointment and ruin the fun for everyone.

My eyes met my father’s across the table and he simply raised his glass of wine and said, “Here is to one more try!” He was right… you never give up and there is always one more try. 60 days left.

With AUD set to expire on October 19, 2013 and a major surgery set for October 16th, I was racing against time to finish. I petitioned ILBOA for an extension of AUD credit due to medical reasons and they extended through Nov 30th.

Between my surgery and my exam, I made four trips home to see Dad while recovering and trying to study. I drove five hours to Louisville, KY to take my exam on Nov. 30th and I was a hot mess … the pressure to pass this exam with both AUD and my father expiring was enough to put me in the looney bin. Thanks, Kricket for your words of encouragement the night before.

I found out I passed FAR 78 on December 8, 2013 and immediately called my father! What a happy day that was! I was able to go see him one more time. The last cognizant conversation we had, he reached up, put his hand in my hair and said “I am so proud of you!” He passed away four days later on December 29, 2013. He had stayed with us for a total of 170 days!

So, now the exams are over and the license is printed. I sat for the CPA exam numerous times but I never gave up… even when people told me I should. Maybe the whole point of my journey was to tell this story so that I could encourage ONE more person to not give up. If that’s the case, I am happy to be that person.

The CPA exam is a formidable foe and not everyone passes the first go around. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t do this or that you can’t be a CPA because I am here to stand in the truth and say … YES! YOU CAN!

I found incredible support and inspiration on Another71 and I am so grateful to Jeff and all the NINJAs. Every encouraging word, every HIYA, every “you can do it” helped get me through this process! Thank you from the bottom of my broken heart! It’s done!

Read more NINJA CPA Exam Success Stories on the Blog and Forum.

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10 comments

Jeff @ another71.com 7 years ago

Congrats!!!

Bridgette Hatley McKeithan 7 years ago

You are amazing. Truly an inspiration to those of us still in this journey.

Stacey Stanek 7 years ago

Wow! I needed to hear this today! Thank you for your inspiring story! :)

Amanda 7 years ago

Yes.. definitely needed this today. Thank you Jeff! Keep these kind of stories coming! And CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Kelsey LaPayne 7 years ago

Congrats from a fellow Illini grad!! This is an amazing story. I've also had a struggle getting this exam finished. I recently lost credit for Audit and BEC and am not sure I will continue on with my journey. It has been 4 solid years of studying for me, 20 attempts. I had 3/4 passed and was struggling with FAR at the end. Your story is an inspiration. I am also mentally, physcially, and emotionally exhausted. I just don't have the drive to pass like I used to. How did you keep your drive and motivation? I find that I have put my life on hold for so long that all I want now is to start living again. I just don't know what to do! I am sooo sooo happy that you were able to complete it! Such a huge accomplishment. Oskee Wow Wow! :)

dee 7 years ago

Congratulation, this is the best most amazing inspiring story i have ever heard, thank you for sharing this and hope all the best for you!!!

BaxterCPA 7 years ago

Kelsey: I can remember starting this exam and reading about a young lady who sat over 25 times. I remember thinking, "Wow, that's great that she finished, but that will never be me". Well, it was. I can't tell you why it has worked out for you like this and why it is such a struggle. I can tell you that you have passed three of the four exams and you can pass all four. For me, I set this goal and it was not going to beat me! 4 times or 40 times, I was going to be a CPA! My best advice is to take care of yourself and your health. If you are exhausted, take a few days/weeks to rejuvenate and let that little flame start to burn inside you once again. You still have REG on the books so it is not a total loss. Get back up and get fighting mad! You CAN do this!!! Failure is an event, not a person! ~Zig Ziglar

Pressing to Pass! 7 years ago

What a testimony! Be encouraged as you have encouraged me...Yes I CAN!

Jess 7 years ago

WOW!!! This is such an encouragement!!!!!

Jess 7 years ago

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!